What grapes are used for old brown sherry?

Answered by James Smith

When it comes to old brown , the grapes used are primarily Palomino, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez (PX). These three grape varietals are the foundation for the production of Sherry, with Palomino being the most dominant, accounting for about 90% of all Sherry production.

Palomino is a white grape variety that is primarily grown in the Sherry region of Spain. It is known for its neutral flavor profile, which makes it ideal for the production of Sherry. The grapes are harvested and pressed to extract the , which is then fermented to produce a dry base . This base wine is then fortified with grape spirit to increase its content.

Moscatel, also known as Muscat, is another grape variety used in the production of Sherry. It is a sweet and aromatic grape that adds complexity and richness to the final product. Moscatel grapes are typically sun-dried before being pressed, which concentrates their sugars and flavors. The resulting raisins are then used to produce a sweet style of Sherry called Moscatel Sherry.

Pedro Ximenez, often abbreviated as PX, is a grape variety that is used to produce some of the sweetest and richest Sherries available. Like Moscatel, PX grapes are sun-dried to produce raisins. These raisins are then pressed to extract a thick, sweet juice that is fermented and fortified to create Pedro Ximenez Sherry. This style of Sherry is known for its intense flavors of raisins, dried fruits, and caramel.

Old brown Sherry, also known as Oloroso Sherry, is made by a different process than the traditional Sherry styles. The grapes used for Oloroso Sherry are primarily Palomino, but the production method involves intentional oxidization. This means that the wine is exposed to air, allowing it to develop a rich, amber color and complex flavors. The result is a dry Sherry with nutty, caramel, and toffee notes.

In my experience as a sommelier and brewer, the use of these grape varietals in the production of Sherry is essential for creating the diverse range of styles and flavors that Sherry is known for. The different grapes contribute their own unique characteristics, whether it's the neutral base of Palomino, the aromatic sweetness of Moscatel, or the intense sweetness of Pedro Ximenez.

The grapes used for old brown Sherry are Palomino, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez. Each grape brings its own distinct qualities to the final product, resulting in a wide range of flavors and styles for Sherry enthusiasts to enjoy.