Sherry Shorts: On Acidity, Salinity, Sapidity and Zing


A description of the acidity in sherry appears in many tasting notes. I’ve used it myself – Valdespino’s Manzanilla Deliciosa En Rama and Lustau’s La Ina fino come immediately to mind. But Palomino is a low acid grape, so how does sherry capture such mouthwatering acidity?

The simple answer is that it doesn’t, unless excess acid is being added in the winemaking process. The perceived acidity that many detect in sherry is just that – perceived. Taste some mosto blind though and you’d certainly be forgiven for thinking it was a high acid, and very delicious, fruit forward white wine.

Antonio Flores, winemaker and master blender at González Byass, attributes the sensation to ‘salinity’ derived from the albariza soil in the vineyard (see the pic above). Eduardo Ojeda of Valdespino and La Guita describes the quality as ‘sapidity’ (check out Brooklyguy’s blog). I mentioned this in passing to Andrew of ‘Under The Flor‘ and he suggested the delightfully onomatopoeic term ‘zing’.

And where does this leave older sherries which have undergone extended periods of oxidative ageing? Conventional wisdom decrees that age concentrates everything…including acidity. Does this mean that there is a tipping point where that razor sharp quality is attributable to pronounced acidity?

Chalk it down to one of those sherry mysteries I guess. It’s certainly something to think about when you are having your next glass of fino.