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Why Jerez is famous for sherry

16 October 2020 08:10

Take a wander through the Andalusia region

Take a wander through the Andalusia region

Many of us will be familiar with sherry as the sweet, rich, fruity drink that magically surfaces at the end of Christmas dinner. But what exactly is it, and how is it made? Let's take a look...

What is sherry?

Put simply, sherry is a wine made from white grapes, but it's not exactly similar to everyday white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. It's made with three special types of grape: palomino fino, moscatel and pedro ximénez, and a small addition of brandy gives it a higher alcohol concentration than usual. Sherry is predominantly made in humid, hot Jerez, a small city found in Andalucía, Spain's southernmost province.

When did Jerez's history with sherry begin?

Even though Jerez is known as the place where sherry came to be, the first mention of the sweet stuff actually came from Greek geographer Strabo in the first century BC. He claimed the wine was brought to the Jerez region by the Phoenicians, from what's now known as Lebanon, all the way back in 1100 BC. That's over 900 years ago! Archaeologists have even found wine presses in the area from around that time.

Nowadays, though, the most prosperous sherry production house is headed up by Doña Luisa González-Gordon, a descendant of Spanish noblemen and Scottish lairds who emigrated to Jerez in the 18th century. Sherry's history is almost as rich as its taste!

How important is sherry in Jerez today?

Whether you know about sherry's sun-soaked origins or not, you'll likely be familiar with the drink; Frasier, Monty Python and James Bond are just three of its pop culture champions. So it's not surprising that sherry-tasting and guided tours of the bodegas, or sherry-production houses, are top tourist attractions in Jerez today.

Where can you go to try Jerez' most famed drink?

For a truly authentic experience, head to one of Jerez's 'tabancos'. These sherry-drinking hotspots are pretty unique to Jerez, and sell sherry by the glass or bottle, which you can return to refill. Tabanco El Pasaje is an ideal spot - even hosting flamenco nights, to truly immerse you in the culture of Jerez.

What else is Jerez famous for?

Aside from its delicious drinks, Jerez is also famous for its long-standing flamenco tradition - so make sure to catch a show, with or without a glass of authentic sherry in hand.

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