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The Versatality Of Sherry

Aug 9, 2008
In 1940, the war in Europe had cut off supplies of French wines and only a trickle of spirituous liquors was coming into the American market. Importers turned en masse to California for a marketable source of revenue. Men carrying brief cases were a familiar sight in the vineyard valleys. They came with gold and promises of nationwide distribution. Their offers were irresistible to all but a few, those few who today can still call their souls their own.

Wine, unlike whiskey, gin, and beer, depends upon inventories built up patiently from vineyards that are extended slowly. The product itself is only as good as the grapes that give it life and the patient care that gives it quality. Tremendous gallon-age is necessary for nationwide distribution.

It is true that you can buy many of the finer wines in the principal cities of the land but you will not find them on the shelves of every little cork and bottle shop in even the largest metropolitan areas. This is not an unusual situation with the products of any creative industry.

Wines that are widely advertised and distributed in seeming limitless quantity are certainly a pleasant beverage, but you will not find, in many of them those qualities which have excited the admiration of discriminating hosts down through the ages. Obviously, rare and versatile wines are harder to find and are much more costly than widely distributed wines.

Sherry is one of the most versatile of all wines, much like Chardonnay, both in its range of sweetness and dryness and in its uses. The most famous Sherry in the world once was Harvey's Bristol Cream, and it was also one of the sweetest. It was too sweet for anything but dessert service or to accompany little cakes in afternoon hospitality, however. At the other end of the line is dry Amontillado, a Sherry completely without sweetness. A perfect aperitif, it is the most suitable of all pre-prandial drinks.

There is no such thing as a "cooking Sherry" or, for that matter, a "cooking wine." "Cooking wine" is the most expensive wine you can afford for that purpose. When heat is applied to wine or any other alcoholic beverage, the alcohol completely disappears in vapor because it is evanescent, leaving only the intrinsic flavor of the product. What is left is no better than the flavor of the wine and naturally, the better the wine, the better its flavor.

Moscato Amabile, not to be confused with Muscat, is made in the Spanish manner, a solera process. An old wine of the type desired is laid down as the "mother cask." Each successive year a wine of the same type is laid down next to it, until a series of casks is established.

Sherry, when blended, happily takes on the characteristics of the oldest wine in the blend. All the wine that is sold or removed is taken from the mother cask, but never more than half. The mother cask is then refilled from the cask next to it and so on all the way back down the line.
About the Author
Sarah Martin is a freelance marketing writer based out of San Diego, CA. She specializes in travel, leisure, home improvement, life insurance, and fine wines, particularly Grenache . For one of the world's largest selections of wine, please visit http://www.wineaccess.com.
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