The Jerez wine is made from Palomino and Pedro Ximenez grapes, proportionally mixed according to desired strength. The grapes are harvested during the first half of September and the Palomino grapes pressed immediately. The Pedro Ximenez grapes are laid out on long straw mats to dry in the sun, allowing the sugar content to reach its highest concentration. Pressing is usually done at night when it is cooler, in cylindrical tanks, with the liquid flowing out into fermentation tanks.
The next step is to fill the casks, one on top of another in a pyramid shape - the higher, younger casks are later blended with the lower older casks. This system, known as 'solera', helps guarantee consistent quality.
The degree of alcohol, between 15 and 18, is adjusted by adding wine spirit. The last step is to bottle the wine, drawing from the oldest casks.
The main distinction in sherry is between fino (dry and straw-coloured with an alcoholic content around 15%), brilliant with tapas, and oloroso (sweet and dark with an alcoholic content of 18%). Combined with a sweet wine, oloroso results in a cream sherry. An amontillado is an amber, moderately dry fino with a nutty flavour and a higher alcoholic content. A manzanilla is a camomile-coloured, unfortified fino with a delicate flavour which is great with seafood.