Port vs Sherry
For those who are teetotalers, words like port and sherry mean nothing or they may get other ideas from these words, but for those who love alcoholic drinks, especially wines, Port ad Sherry are two distinct wines having different tastes. Though both Sherry and Port are fortified, meaning alcoholic strength of both is enhanced after fermentation. Both are referred to as dessert wines as they are consumed after dinner. Many remain confused with the differences between port and sherry because of their similarities. However, there are many differences that will be highlighted in this article.
Port is a dark colored (red) sweet wine, originating from a region called Douro Valley in Portugal. In fact, the name of the fortified wine stems from a city called Oporto in this region. Though Port wines are today being produced in many parts of the world including Australia and US, connoisseurs regard Port coming from Portugal as the real Port wine.
Many different grape varieties produced in Douro Valley can be used to make Port wine. Some of the more common varieties are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao, and Tinta Borocca. You may be surprised to know that harvesting in steep slopes, in the valley, is still done by hands as machines find it hard to pick grapes in these slopes. The grapes are crushed into juice and stored in large steel tanks. The fermentation of this juice takes place on its own through natural yeast. After some time when nearly half of the sugars in the juice have been fermented, alcohol is added to strengthen the wine. This fortification also signals the end of fermentation as port is intended to remain a bit sweet. After fermentation, the wine is stored in wooden casks to mature for a period of almost another year.
Sherry is a light colored fortified wine coming from Spain. The area of production of Sherry is in and around a city called Jerez, in the province of Cadiz. Sherry is not Sherry unless it has been made in this region of Spain. It is made using only 3 types of grape varieties. In fact, around 90% of Sherry coming out of Spain makes use of Pedro Ximenez grapes. After harvesting, the grapes are dried under the sun, to raise the concentration of sugar inside the fruit.
After crushing and obtaining juices, fermentation starts and is allowed to be completed so that all the sugar in the juice turns into alcohol. This leaves no sweetness in the juice and there is a layer of natural yeast called Flor floating over the juice in the barrels.
What is the difference between Port and Sherry?
• Port comes from Douro Valley in Portugal while Sherry comes from Jerez town and nearby areas in Spain
• Port is dark in color while Sherry is light colored
• Fermentation is stopped midway in case of Port wine, to leave it a bit sweet, while fermentation is allowed to be completed in Sherry, to make it devoid of any sweetness. This is why Port is sweet and rich in texture while Sherry is dry
• Fortification takes place before completion of fermentation while fortification of Sherry is done after the completion of fermentation
• Alcohol content is higher in Port than Sherry (around 20% in Port, in comparison to around 12% in Sherry)
• Port wine is made using many different varieties of grapes while Sherry is made using only 3 grape varieties