Definition - What does Fino Sherry mean?
Fino is a type of Sherry (fortified wine) that is made from white, Palomino grapes grown in Jerez de la Frontera, in Southern Spain. Grape alcohol is added to the must after fermentation and it is classified as Fino by having a 15-15.5% alcohol content, lower compared to other fortified wines. Fino sherries are made from lighter, dry wines and should be served chilled in small, narrow, flute-like glasses.
This type of sherry is also distinct because of its unique maturation process and the use of flor yeast to alter the taste. The maturation process takes a minimum of three years and is quite extensive. However, this does not raise the price per bottle of Fino sherry, which remains relatively inexpensive despite its selectivity of harvests and long maturation.
WineFrog explains Fino Sherry
Fino, which translates to fine in Spanish, is a light sherry that is meant to be served chilled (between 7-9o C, 44-48o F) and paired with Spanish tapas or small plates of food. Fino sherry is made using the solera system, which is a method that involves moving wine through a series of three to nine wooden barrels. The barrels are stored in bodegas (cool, well-ventilated buildings) and stacked from the top where temperatures are higher to the bottom where the temp. is lower. The base wine is often blended together with other wines as it moves down from one barrel to the next. Fort sherries have the most oak cask barrels involved in this process, and only a small amount of the last barrel aged is bottled and sold.
Sherry wines are also distinct because of their use of flor (yeast) during the maturation process. The barrels used in solera are not completely filled with wine; flor are layers of yeast growing on top of the wine. For Fino wines this biological process is complete over a long period between five to six years of aging. A combination of the flor yeasts and the oak casks attributes to its bitter taste, pale color and complex aroma.
The industrial aging method uses the solera system on a large scale (500 L oak barrels) stacked in rows and each containing the same wine at the same aging stage. The bottom barrel contains the oldest wine and a fraction (less than a third) of its volume is removed a few times per year and bottled. The wine lost is refilled with aged wine from the barrel right above it. New wine is added to the top barrel, which is the new year’s vintage.