Difference between Sherry and Wine

By: | Updated: Feb-7, 2018

Are you looking to expand your knowledge of beverages? Or perhaps you just trying to look interesting at a bar or at parties? Either way, a good start is to learn the difference between sherry and wine.

Summary Table

Fortified wineAn alcoholic beverage category
Product of protected origin, made exclusively in a region of Andalusia, SpainCan be made anywhere
Production started in AD 700Has been around since 8000 BC
15-22% ABV5-16% ABV
A dry wine to which sweetness is addedCan be naturally dry or sweet depending on the quantity of residual sugar after the fermentation process


Types of sherry
Types of sherry

Sherry is a fortified wine made in the region of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain with protected designation of origin status. This means that all wines labeled “Sherry” must come from the Sherry Triangle. This is the region between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria in the Cadiz region. The name is an Anglicization of the name of the Jerez region, with the name of Xeres also being accepted. Wine production in the region started around AD 700 and was introduced by the Moors.

Sherry is made by adding grape spirit to base wines after they have fully fermented. This increases the final alcohol content. Like all other wines, it ages in barrels in controlled temperatures. Since the fermentation process precedes the fortification, all sugar turns into alcohol so all sherry wines come out dry and sweetness is added later.

There are different types of sherry wines, according to the alcohol volume and sugar content. From lowest alcohol and sugar concentrations, these are: Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, Dry, Pale Cream, Medium, Cream, Dulce, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez. 

White wine, rose wine, and red wine

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made through the fermentation of grapes and the addition of sugar, enzymes, water, or yeast. Different types of preparation, different types of grapes, and different types of aging processes make for different types of wine. There are many regions in Europe with wine products of protected origin and many beverages are made from wine.

This beverage has been around since BC 8000 and almost all cultures and countries have their own versions. It is used in cooking in a number of dishes, from the simplest to the more intricate ones. Wine prices vary according to age and vintage.

Apart from white, rose, and red, wine is divided into other categories as well, depending on the region of harvest and production: Riesling (white wine), Chardonnay (white), Sauvignon Blanc (white), Pinot Grigio (white), Syrah (red), Merlot (red), Cabernet Sauvignon (red), and Pinot noir (red).

Sherry vs Wine

So what is the difference between sherry and wine?

The connection between the two is easy to establish. Wine is the generic name of the beverage category which includes the fermentation of grapes. Sherry is the name of a specific type of wine made in Spain by adding alcohol to fermented base wine.

When wine is made, the resulting beverage can either be sweet or dry, depending on the type of grapes. With Sherry, the grape spirit added once the fermentation process is complete makes it come out dry. Afterwards, the taste is altered according to how sweet or dry it must be.

Also, since “fortified wine” means extra alcohol was added, Sherry wines have the highest alcohol concentration of all wines. While regular fermentation can only goes as far as 5-16% ABV (alcohol by volume), fortified Sherry wines range between 15% and 22% ABV.

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