Behind the Cork™ - Tió Pepe Fino Sherry


Tió Pepe Fino Sherry ($20)

Tió Pepe’s Fino Sherry is from the city of Jarez in southern Spain's Andalusia region.

It’s made from the Palomino grape, fermented to the 11-12% ABV range, fortified to 15.5% and then enters the Tió Pepe Solera. While it spends four years in the Solera, a layer of yeast, known as the ‘flor’ forms on the surface of the Sherry within the cask. This protects the Sherry from oxygen and gives Tió Pepe it’s unique aroma and character.

The aroma is notable for its yeast along with notes of toasted almond. This Sherry is a pale golden yellow in color and light in flavor (hence Fino). It’s completely dry and, when served very chilled, makes for a wonderful aperitif.

Sherry can also be used to make cocktails. And, Javier Ortega Diaz of Las Vegas NV recently used this Sherry to make the ‘Sophia’ cocktail that won the U.S. Tió Pepe Challenge in New York City and moved him on to the recent International Tió Pepe Challenge Final in Jerez.

The award winning ‘Sophia’ cocktail included 2 oz Tió Pepe Fino Sherry, 3/4 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz homemade kumquat, rosemary & thyme syrup and 1 oz homemade sparkling hibiscus water and is served over ice. Sounds amazing!

So, whether you enjoy Sherry straight up or mixed in a cocktail, try this one from Tió Pepe. It’s quite nice. Cheers!

Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Rebekah Polster of Donna White Communications

Fortified Wines: Sherry and Vermouth


In recent posting we've addressed fortified wines including Port, Madeira and Marsala. All these wines are produced by adding either Brandy or neutral grape spirit to wines during the fermentation process or after fermentation is complete.

Without getting too much into the details of distilled spirits, Brandy (derived from the word brandywine, or burnt wine) and grape spirit are produced by heating wine to the point where the alcohol evaporates and is collected separately. Fortified winemakers then use these distilled alcohols to increase the alcohol levels in fermented wines.

While grape spirit is simply neutral-flavored grape alcohol, Brandy takes this grape alcohol one step further by aging it in wooden casks to smooth out the flavor of this otherwise harsh alcohol and give it its unique flavor.

Other popular fortified wines include Sherry and Vermouth.  Sherry, from Spain, is typically fortified with Brandy after fermentation is complete to produce a dry fortified wine. There are sweet styles of Sherry but the finer ones, from Spain, are dry.  The Spanish Sherries are made in multiple styles:

Dry Sherry: Made predominately from the Palomino grape:

  • Fino & Manzanilla - Very light in flavor. Can have salty fruit flavors.
  • Amontillado - A bit bolder with nutty flavors.
  • Palo Cortado - This is much richer with roasted flavors of molasses and coffee.
  • Oloroso - This style is intentionally exposed to oxygen during aging resulting its dark appearance and nutty flavors.

Sweet Sherry: Made from Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes:

  • Pedro Ximéniz (PX) - This is the sweetest style with flavors dates and figs.
  • Moscatel - This has sweet caramel flavors.
  • Sweet Sherry: A blend of Oloroso and PX Sherry.

Vermouth is another fortified wine originally from Italy. Vermouth is produced from neutral grape wine or unfermented wine must. Producers then add additional alcohol and their own mixture of botanical products including fruits, herbs, spices and roots. After the wine is aromatized and fortified, the Vermouth may be bottled dry, or sweeteners such as sugar may be added to create the sweet style of Vermouth.

So during the past few entries we've made a quick pass through the most popular fortified wines. Next, we'll investigate dessert wines.  Cheers!