DRY – Also known as French vermouth, this pale golden style is typically light and dry with a crisp, herbal taste.
SWEET – Usually red, this sweeter style has a slight bitterness, through its herbal accents are often muted.
BLANCO – Like dry, blanco is clear in color and bears a medium – sweet flavor with pleasant herbal notes.
ROSE – Similar to blanco, however rose has a pinkish tone to it from its brief contact with grape skins, and a dry palate.
FINO – Pale, dry, and medium bodied. Fino sherries are often served as an aperitif.
MANZANILLA – A light bodied subcategory of the Finos, Manzanilla sherries are aged in the coastal town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, where they attain a pleasant saltiness not typical of regular Finos.
AMONTILLADO – Another Fino type, Amontillados are darker in color and have a pleasant, crisp nuttiness. Inexpensive blends are slightly sweeter.
OLOROSO – Deep golden in color, Olorosos are mostly nutty, full – bodied, and sweet. There is also a dry style.
CREAM SHERRY – This term refers to a style of Oloroso sherry that is sweet and has a somewhat creamy texture.
PEDRO XIMENEZ – The sweetest of all sherries, these are made solely from the Pedro Ximenez grape.
SERCIAL – Dry, light, and crisp, delightful as an aperitif.
VERDELHO – A medium dry bottling with very high acidity, can be served before and after dinner.
RAINWATER – A blend of Madeira, which is pale, medium dry, and versatile.
BUAL – Medium sweet, a perfect end to a meal.
MALMSEY – The sweetest style: rich, full-bodied, with a huge bouquet. Always served after dinner.
White – Usually light and dry, but on occasion white ports have been known to be sweet and medium bodied.
Ruby – Medium to full-bodied Port, young and sweet.
Tawny – Inexpensive Tawny Ports are a mix of ruby and white ports. However, high-end tawny ports are colored to a tawney brown, sweet and mellow, and often very complexed.
Vintage – Must be aged at least two years in oak casks. The wine is then transferred to individual bottles. The bottle should be kept at least ten years before opening.
Late Bottled Vintages – Aged four to six years in oak casks. Once bottled the vintages do not improve these ports can be drank immediately.
Commercial vermouth appeared in late – eighteenth – century Italy and resembled what we call sweet vermouth today. Dry vermouths were introduced in France in the early nineteenth century. Today vermouth is produced in every wine producing country, from relatively inexpensive wines.
Vermouth is an aromatized wine- that is, a wine fortified with grape spirit, then flavored with botanicals, usually a combination of herbs, roots, seeds, fruits, and flowers. The precise recipe for the botanicals determines the particular brand of vermouth. Vermouth means “Wormwood,” a bitter herb that was employed medicinally for centuries and is still an ingredient in some bottling’s of vermouth.
Madeira is a wine fortified with a grape spirit. Madeira is the only wine purposefully matured for a short period at high temperatures – typically 104 to 122 F. It is fortified with a grape spirit and moved to a cooler cellar. Where Madeira stays for at least 18 months.
Sherry is a Spanish wine fortified with grape spirit. Once the Spanish wine is fermented, the wine is pumped half full into casks. Some wines actually become sherry, only sherries will have a white film on the top of the surface of the wine. The white film is called flor or “flower.” Flor is an airborn yeast that can be a thick or a thin yeast.
Port is a wine that is fortified with grape brandy. A young wine is considered for turning into port will be subject to halted fermentation with the use of brandy. This leaves some of the grape’s sugar unfermented causing sweetness to the wine. Port is then aged in oak casks.
Vermouth should be served at room temperature in one-ounce portions either neat in sherry glasses or on the rocks.
Sherrys should be served in brandy snifters or if on the rocks in rocks glasses. Finos and manzanilla Sherrys should be served chilled. Amontillado sherrys should be served chilled in between meals and with cheeses. Pedro Ximenez and cream sherrys should be served at room temperature with dessert and or with blue or strong cheeses.
Madeira should be served in small wine glasses in two ounce pours. Bual and Malmsey; the sweetest type, should be served at room temperature. Serve Sercial and Verdelho slightly chilled. Whereas, Rainwater should be served, straight from the refridgerator.
Ports should be served in small wine glasses at room temperature. White ports should always be served chilled. You will always want to decant the vintage ports to rid them of the sediment that lingers within the bottle.