Exploring the Solera System in Sherry
The blending process is a crucial element in the production of Sherry. Once the wine has gone through the different stages of the Solera System, it is time to create a blend that will ensure consistency in the final product. The blending process is performed by the cellar master, who will taste samples from the different barrels in the Solera System to ensure that the final blend meets the quality standards of the winery.
The cellar master will start by selecting the oldest barrel in the Solera System, which will be the foundation of the blend. This barrel will contain the most mature wine, with the highest concentration of flavors and aromas. The cellar master will then select a percentage of wine from the barrel that is immediately below the oldest barrel in the Solera System. This percentage can vary depending on the style of Sherry being produced. For example, Fino Sherry will have a lower percentage of wine from the lower barrel, while Oloroso Sherry will have a higher percentage of wine from the lower barrel.
Once the wine has been selected from the lower barrel, it is mixed with wine from the oldest barrel in a process called 'saca'. The wine is extracted from the barrel using a special tool called a 'venencia' and transferred to a vat where it is mixed with the wine from the lower barrel. The mixture is then returned to the oldest barrel in the Solera System, completing the blending process.
The blending process is an art, and the cellar master's experience and knowledge are critical to ensuring the quality and consistency of the final product. The process is repeated periodically, and each time a portion of wine is removed from the lower barrel to be blended with the wine from the oldest barrel. This ensures that the quality and consistency of the Sherry is maintained over time, while allowing for the development of complex flavors and aromas.
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