The fortified wine of the tri-city area in the region of Andalusia, comes in nine different types, though all are known commonly as Sherry. Fino is made with a flor yeast that covers the top of the wine so completely, that the wine, rather than developing the aromas of oxidation, develops the aromas of acetaldehyde, its telltale sign. Constantly fed with new wines that are part of the solera system, the fresh glycerin will keep the flor yeast alive for six or seven years. Fino is always fermented dry. Oloroso, void of the flor yeast, is oxidized and develops nutty, aromas and a caramel color. Amontillado is a mix of the two. It begins as a fino, but the flor yeast covering is broken, and the wine is oxidized, giving it qualities of both the fino and oloroso sherries. Manzanilla is a fino sherry made in San Lucar de Barrameda rather than Jerez. Paolo Cortado neither uses flor yeast nor is it oxidized. Just as Amontillado has qualities of both fino and oloroso, Palo Cortado has qualities of neither. Pale is a sweet fino. Cream is a sweet oloroso. Medium is a sweet Amontillado. Dark, rich and the sweetest of them all is Pedro Ximenez, named for the one of the three sherry grapes that makes up this wine.
Yesterday, I sat for the Certified Specialist of Wine. Over the past ten months I’ve read the text from the Society of Wine Educators three times. I’ve made 719 flash cards, and gone over them ten times each. By the tenth time I knew the information instantly. Were I to take the test again, I would not do less than this to prepare. It was as rigorous and detailed as I had expected it to be. I think I did pretty well. I’ll know in two to four weeks.
It has been almost three and half years since I started this blog. I began a wine journey, seeking to understand both the world of wine and the world around me a little better. Since then I’ve read many wine books, taken all the online courses that Wine Spectator has to offer, gone to every wine tasting, winery tour, and wine festival I could work in and finally studied for and sat for the CSW. In a way I see that test yesterday as a culmination of sorts, a goal reached. But, on the other hand, my thirst for wine knowledge is like the flor yeast of a fino sherry that needs to be constantly fed. That’s what makes wine so intriguing, there’s always more to learn.