Tag: wine elaboration

The elaboration of wine

 TAGS:In the first place let’s clarify that is difficult to express how to elaborate wine in a few words, we just try to convey to the reader what we can summarize after visiting wineries, especially in times of harvest and what the experts explain about.

If we simplify, we can say that what is needed for the grape juice to transform into wine is a process that should be the most natural way possible: fermentation. This is a chemical phenomenon whereby the grape sugar turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and it is produced by the intervention of the yeasts found in greater proportion in the skins. When the grape skins are broken, yeast start to work on sugar resulting in fermentation.

Then the grapes are brought from the vineyard holding together the bunches, then settled to the wine press, a cellar space for that function, next they will pass through the destemming process, there emerge the grains to be pressed and the juice extracted. This juice, consisting of pulp, skins and seeds is called must, and this will be put to ferment in tanks or barrels. Normally yeast would act to transform all the sugar into alcohol, or at least until it reaches a level of 15% alcohol in wine, but often happens that some grapes are too sweet and the process must be stopped manually.


Currently the process by which wines are elaborated is accompanied by the use of technologies never even imagined for such process, elements that are now extremely needed to ensure quality. For example, it is known that white wines require that fermentation occurs at low temperatures, thereby cooling equipment will be necessary to slow down the fermentation process, achieving control of the process and preventing the oxidation, an absolutely damaging agent in the process of creating wine. By contrast, red wines do not require temperatures as low, but the oxygenation should be also avoided in its elaboration process.

Those wines which mature in oak casks, whether white or red, face a very soft oxygenation process because the element is ?strained? in small proportions, but stops if it is bottled and corked. Its stay in bottle is necessary and essential to make the wine settle, achieving an optimal point of maturity.

Elaboration and variants of sherry

The sherry is not a single wine, but its appellation includes 4 variants that come from a base liquid elaborated in the same way:

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.

Sherry and Pedro Ximenez

 TAGS:Pedro Ximenez and Palomino Fino are the grape varieties which define the character of the regions of Cordoba and Andalusia in Spain, respectively, since in these hot and dry lands are produced the country’s most recognized wines, sherry and Pedro Ximenez. In the sixteenth century, long before the world knew of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, two of the most famous appellations, these two drinks were already successful exports, being the UK their main destination.

In fact, it was the marriage of Catherine of Aragon, the eldest daughter of the Catholic Kings, with Prince Arthur of England which boosted the trade in these products outside the borders. To the extent that much later, in the nineteenth century, sherry accounted for 40% of wine imports in Great Britain.

For ignorance is common to confuse sherry with Pedro Ximénez, due to their identical color and provenance from very close areas. However, the differences between the two are not minor. The first is an aperitif dry wine, made from Palomino Fino grapes. In contrast, the second is a sweet wine produced with the variety Pedro Ximénez, ideal to accompany desserts. The union of these drinks is given by the soil, since its cultivation requires many hours of sun and little water. In addition, in both cases these products are fortified, i.e. wine alcohol is added after fermentation, and then the liquid is transferred to oak barrels for its aging in sills.

Once in the cellars, the barrels are arranged in a pyramidal shape, being always the oldest below and the newest on top, and for bottling the ?venenciador? (cellar master) takes a portion of each container. Finally, the barrels are filled using younger wine. Thus, the sherry and Pedro Ximenez are always kept fresh. A Pedro Ximénez can get to rest for so long that there are still labels on the market from 1924, which are eagerly sought.

The sherry wines, elaborated always dry from the Palomino Fino grape variety, are named after the town of Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain, in Andalusia. Typically the wineries, owned by large companies, produce the drink in this city or in two nearby villages, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria.

Seeking to raise its image, in recent years the production of sherry was defined by a set of rules. Among other things, the amount of wine that each winery can sell each year was restricted, the sale of bulk wine was banned and was allowed the incorporation of the vintage on the label for premium wines.