Most of the popular wines the world has to offer have a certain cultural impact. Sherry is a world-renowned, specialty wine of the city of Jerez and its surrounding areas in Spain. If you’re considering one of the varieties of this uniquely made fortified wine, learn some of the interesting facts about sherry and its collective culinary, social and cultural impact.
The Waxing and Waning Worldwide Popularity of Sherry
Sherry has a particularly long and storied history, which conclusively dates back as far as the 8th century, and is speculated to date back thousands of years further. Throughout its history, the wine’s spirit has been popular throughout the world, though not on a consistent basis. The appeal of sherry has risen and fallen, sometimes for reasons which aren’t particularly clear.
Sherry was first exported in the 12th century, and achieved immediate popularity among the British and other European nations. This trend went on for nearly 800 years. In the 16th century, sherry was widely regarded as the finest wine available in all of Europe, and further increases in popularity came in the late 19th and mid-20th centuries.
In the 1980s, sherry suddenly and sharply decreased in popularity, and exports decreased by half. Since that decade passed, the Jerez fortified wine has been exported at a steady annual rate of around 700,000 to 750,000 hectoliters (Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade, 2011). The cause for this decline in sales is unclear, but some believe it’s attributed to the rise in popularity of affordable wines from non-traditional wine regions, like California and Australia.
Sherry Production Outside Spain
One of the most popular types of sherry in the United States comes from Great Britain. Harvey’s Bristol Cream, made since 1796, is a blend of several original Spanish sherries blended into one beverage. This is indicative of sherry’s immense popularity in England.
Legally, only sherries from Jerez are permitted to have the label “Sherry”. Sherry is produced in the U.S., but it’s required by law to bear a label identifying it as “California sherry” or “American Sherry.”
Sherry in Popular Culture
In the classic literature of such renowned authors ranging from William Shakespeare to Edgar Allan Poe, the different types of sherry have been a featured beverage of fictional characters, indicating the tastes of the authors and the cultures to which they belonged. Additionally, in contemporary American television, sherry was the favored drink of the main characters of the popular sitcom “Frasier.”