TIP: S9E04 "Warrior in Costume"
A famous doctor once said,
“I am simply saying that life, uh… finds a way”.
You can try to bottle up life,
but you can’t suppress it’s spirit.
It’s been proven true in countless cases.
Of course, I, uh… am talking about fermentation.
Regardless of difficult climates and various challenges, humans have overcome obstacles and figured out ways to make numerous brews from Bangkok to Berlin.
Not to say that those challenges weren’t formidable. For instance, as we’ve talked about before, the cool northern climates of the champagne region of France lead to yeast going dormant prior to eating all their sugars. French monks, not fully understanding the science of fermentation, would bottle up the seemingly inactive wine, and then were thoroughly perplexed when the wine became fizzy the following spring and the bottles exploded.
While Dom Pérignon was in France trying to figure out how to control that wine process, wine makers in southwestern Spain were trying to understand a similar, yet very different challenge. They were not worried about cold temperatures putting their yeast to sleep, instead, the humid and temperate climate was allowing the growth of a film of yeast that floated on top of their wines. While it was very different than what happened in other regions, Spaniards finally decided that the wine produced under this film was not only fine, it was actually pretty damn good, and they decided to embrace the bizarre yeast activity, not fully understanding it’s unique benefits.
Sadly, this week is a very busy week for my team here at Floyd County, as we try to get the last few episodes out the door, for I’m going to give you just the TIP, very quickly. You’ll hardly even notice.
This week, we’re drinking:
Now, I am doing you a massive disservice by glossing over this spirit. Not only is it really pretty interesting, but due to its unique production process, it can create an enormous variety of flavors, which again, is a disservice to you, because now, rather than deeply understanding your choices at the liquor store, you’re just gonna have to trust me… which honestly, I wouldn’t recommend.
Here is the TL;DR of sherry:
That layer of yeast is called the “Flor”, which is Spanish (and portuguese) for “flower”. It benefits the wine in it’s aging process in the barrel, by providing protection from oxygen. Some sherries age for so long, that the flor eventually goes away, and oxidation begins to take place. What part of the aging process you bottle your sherry, results in different classifications.
Under Spanish law, all wine labelled as "Sherry" must legally come from the Sherry Triangle, an area in the province of Cádiz between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María.
Because there are many types of sherry, ranging from very dry to very sweet, this category of wine can be enjoyed before, durning, or after dinner, paired with many different foods and occasions.
Don't drink the ancient stuff from the cupboard of your parents kitchen. C'mon, have some standards.
The types of sherry, from driest to sweetest are as follows:
Fino ('fine' in Spanish) is the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of Sherry. The wine is aged in barrels under a cap of flor yeast to prevent contact with the air.
Manzanilla is an especially light variety of Fino Sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Manzanilla Pasada is a Manzanilla that has undergone extended aging or has been partially oxidized, giving a richer, nuttier flavor.
Amontillado First aged under flor and then exposed to oxygen, producing a sherry that is darker than a Fino but lighter than an Oloroso.
Oloroso ('scented' in Spanish) is a variety of sherry aged oxidatively for a longer time than a Fino or Amontillado, producing a darker and richer wine. With alcohol levels between 18-20%, Olorosos are the most alcoholic sherries. Like Amontillado, naturally dry, they are often also sold in sweetened versions called Cream sherry
Palo Cortado is a variety of Sherry that is initially aged like an Amontillado, typically for three or four years, but which subsequently develops a character closer to an Oloroso. This either happens by accident when the flor dies, or commonly the flor is killed by fortification or filtration.
Jerez Dulce (Sweet Sherries) are made either by fermenting dried Pedro Ximénez (PX) or Moscatel grapes, which produces an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine, or by blending sweeter wines or grape must with a drier variety.
Cream is a type of sweet sherry first made in the 1860s by blending different sherries, usually including Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez.
This week, you’re likely drinking this sherry by it self, after dinner, thus you are likely gonna be picking from the back half of this list.
Personally, I’d look at something like a Palo Cortado or a Pedro Ximénez. The Palo Cortado won’t be overly sweet, but it will have lots of oaky flavors and complexity. The Pedro Ximénez on the other hand will likely taste like figs and raisins and other indulgent dried fruit.
I do not begin to presume that very many of you will actually drink this specific TIP, as delicious as it is, so instead I will say that the alternate for this week is actually more predominantly featured. It just isn’t as interesting and we’ve covered it before. That said, feel free to enjoy:
BEER BY THE LITER. Seriously. Drink lots and lots of beer.
Also Corpse Reviver #2.