Wednesday, 2 September 2015

10 Interesting Facts about Sherry

*A tiny bar in the Ginza Sihbuya-ku area of Tokyo holds the Guinness world record for the most varieties of Sherry commercially available by the glass. Bar Ollaria has no fewer than 293! Some staff members are trained venenciadores and even ham carvers.

*You’ll have heard of the famous mice at González Byass who entertain tourists drinking a little PX. They are allowed to be there as they eat insects which might harm the wooden butts of wine. Some bodegas, however don’t allow them and instead employ"perros ratoneros bodegueros" a type of terrier bred to eliminate the mice, as well as rats.

*Sherry (or in its Latin form: Vinum Xericum) is the only wine included in the British Pharmacopoeia. This is an official list of all permitted substances with curative properties which carry the initials BP after their name. Other countries with the wisdom to include it in theirs are India, Japan and the United States.

*The UK excise duty on a bottle of Sherry (not exceeding 22%/vol) is £2.73. If you add the costs of distribution, bonding, mark-ups and 20% VAT, it is a much more expensive bottle in the UK. But it is about the only sunshine the Brits can get!

*A glass of Fino or Manzanilla contains some 45 calories. A typical red wine can contain anything between 100 and 150 calories and a typical white can be close. So if you want to cut those calories you know what to do. Just avoid the sweet wines… Also, Finos and Manzanillas have very low histamine content. Everyone blames sulphur, but it’s usually histamine which causes headaches.

*In preparation for his dangerous circumnavigation of the world, setting sail at Sanlúcar, Ferdinand Magellan spent much more on Sherry than on weapons. Unfortunately Sherry could not cure scurvy which killed two thirds of his crew, and he himself was killed by weapons.

Magellan's flagship "Victoria" (foto:wikipedia)
*“Arroba” is a very old and useful word. It is a unit of weight (about 11.5 kilos), a measure of liquid (about 16.6 litres) and is written thus: @ so your e-mail address could be given in Spanish as ”so and so arroba (@)” . Sherry blends are made up so that each constituent wine is measured in arrobas, always totalling 30 (500 litres - the capacity of a shipping butt). One arroba of grapes used to be carried on a picker’s shoulder and exactly covered the esparto mat for sunning.

*According to Hidalgo’s “Efemérides” there was a plague of the insect or vine grub known as the “purgón in around 1600. At a municipal meeting it was decided that the best cure would be to excommunicate it. It seemed to work as another plague in 1640 was dealt with by the same means.

*At Grupo Estévez they entertain the flor to music while it works its magic on the wine. They have created an 8 track CD called “Vid-Vino-Vida.” It is part of a bigger project by Doctor Aurora Sánchez Sousa of the Ramón y Cajal Hospital to translate into music the genetic sequence of microorganisms in the hope of preventing illnesses. Well, the wine certainly tastes good!

*At the end of the 1970s Sherry boom the Sherry business had 23,000 hectares of vineyard and employed 12,000 people to produce vast quantities of commercial brands. Now there remain only 7,000 hectares and barely 1,500 people. But it’s not all bad: Sherry is beginning to find a new lease of life based solely on its innate quality.

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