By law, the initial 70% of the pressing is used to develop fino wines and light or common sherry, the next 20% goes to the production of oloroso and other wines of lesser quality, while any remaining liquid should be distilled (converted in a spirit like cognac).
In developing these wines the important thing is to get -after the harvest of grapes, grinding, pressing, fermenting and fortification (addition of wine alcohol to raise their graduation)- that in the barrel where it rests grows what is known as "flor", a yeast that develops a layer that gives the wine unique properties while protecting it from the harmful effects of oxygen. However, unlike what happens with the traditional wine, here oxygen is not always a bad company. On the contrary, sometimes the deterioration caused by its presence is intentional. Such is the case, for example, of the "amontillado" sherry. The alcohol content of the fortified shall determine the wine. In the case of the "fino" "amontillado" and "oloroso", it will be 15 volumes and, in the "palo cortado", 17 volumes (the ?flor? can not develop in this atmosphere).
The ultimate expression of these wines is the "fino", pale golden color and almond aroma. This is a very dry drink with a smooth flavor. Here, the ?flor? avoids the oxidation of the liquid for at least 3 years of biological aging. For many the perfect aperitif, this wine is consumed at 8° C, and goes well with fish and seafood, as well as with the typical Spanish tapas.
The "amontillado" sherry reminds for his part to hazelnuts, and its color is amber. Also dry flavored, this drink comes from a double aging, biological and oxidative, since its development began as a "fino" with ?flor?, but with time it disappears and oxygen begins to act on the liquid marking its own characteristics. Served optimally at 14° C, experts advise drinking this wine with soups, white meat and oily fish.
"Oloroso" is the term used to identify a sherry darker than the others, with notes of nuts and toasts in mouth. With higher alcohol content than "fino" or "amontillado", this sherry comes from a prolonged contact of the wine with the air inside the barrel. Habitually is consumed with game meat because of its pronounced flavor, at a temperature around 14° C.
Among the "amontillado" and "oloroso" is the "palo cortado?, which is obtained when the tasters identified citrus notes during aging of fino sherry, and they fortify it with more alcohol in order to remove the ?flor? and give way to an oxidative phase that will enhance the special features found in the barrel. This wine is consumed at 13° C, and is ideal for drinking it alone or maybe with nuts.
In the area of Sanlucar de Barrameda, the winters are warmer than in Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez de la Frontera, since the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean moderates the cold. Nature does that here the ?flor? is active all year round offering a special feature to the "fino", so actually it is known as manzanilla.