Sherry Without Fortification?

An Andalusian research project is investigating Sherry with reduced alcohol content. This project particularly focuses on Fino and Manzanilla varieties, which are aged under a layer of flor.

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Will a new style emerge? (Photo: barmalini/
Will a new style emerge? (Photo: barmalini/

Can there be Sherry without fortification? At the Vinoble fair in Jerez de la Frontera, a research project called Go Innofino presented its findings. The aim of this working group is to “investigate the possibility of reducing the alcohol content of biologically aged wines such as Fino and Manzanilla," explained Cristina Lasanta, a researcher at the Campus of International Agri-Food Excellence (ceiA3), one of the participating institutes, alongside the University of Cadiz and the University of Córdoba.

The results presented were promising, according to a statement from ceiA3. From a technical standpoint, it is possible to produce Fino and Manzanilla without fortification. This results in wines with an alcohol content equivalent to that of the base wine used to produce Sherry, around 11% or 12% ABV. The typical characteristics are not lost, according to the research team. However, tastings will be conducted next to determine if consumers share this view.

Long Lead Time

Efforts have been underway since 2017 to amend the specifications for Sherry, aiming to eliminate the minimum alcohol limits of 15% ABV for Finos and Manzanillas, or 17% ABV for Olorosos. The committees of the Consejo Regulador and the Andalusian regional government have already approved this change, with only the EU still pending to follow suit. The studies conducted by Go Innofino could provide a compelling argument for this, especially since they are co-funded by EU funds from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The regional government will assume further financing.

The Still Wines known as Vinos de Pasto, which are gaining increasing importance in the region, are not affected by this change. They will remain, for the time being, Vino de Mesa or Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. Whether this initiative for lower alcohol content can reverse the declining trend for Sherry remains to be seen. In 2023, sales of Sherry in all categories decreased by 5.6%, with a stronger decline in the domestic market (6.5%) compared to exports (4.5%). MS


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