A condiment resulting from the acetic fermentation of wine made from grapes grown within the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda Designations of Origin.
A strong, rich, winey flavor that lasts. Intense but pleasant acetic aroma, clearly reminiscent of the original wine, with hints of nuts, wine-soaked wood and spice. The appearance is dense and the texture creamy. The color varies from amber to mahogany.
After careful processing, the Regulation allows for a residual alcohol content of 3% in volume and a minimum dry matter content of 1.3 g/l for every degree of acetic acid. The minimum acidity required of this sherry vinegar is 70 g per liter (7% in volume).
Production / Processing method
The vinegar can either be made from fortified wines or young, unfortified wines. In the first case, the wines used are usually sherries that for some reason reach a high degree of acetic acidity during ageing. In the case of young wines, the acetic bacteria are usually encouraged to develop using fast acetic fermentation procedures. In both cases, the vinegar takes on its characteristics from ageing which is carried out in the same way as for sherry wines, following the criaderas y solera process. Another traditional process called añadas leaves the vinegar to age without moving it.
Sherry vinegar is usually aged in 500 liter casks made of American oak previously soaked in sherry. However, the PDO regulations also allow the use of other containers made from oak or chestnut wood holding up to 1,000 liters.
The criaderas y solera method is a dynamic process in which the youngest vinegars are methodically mixed with others that have been aged for a longer period so that they gradually acquire the required characteristics after several years.
The barrels of vinegar are arranged in order of age in ranks of three or four levels, or ‘scales’. The bottom scale is called the solera being nearest to the ground (suelo) and contains the oldest vinegar. The next scale up, called the first criadera, contains slightly younger vinegar. In the second criadera, the vinegar is even younger and so on, up to the last criadera.
When ready, the vinegar is extracted from the bottom barrels but only in small quantities. The amount removed is replaced with the same amount of vinegar from the barrels in the first criadera. In turn, the vinegar taken from the first criadera is replaced with vinegar from the second, and so on up to the top, where the youngest vinegars are found.
The last stage is called cabeceo which is when the vinegars are combined, not necessarily all aged by the same method, to gain the end product classified as Vinagre de Jerez.
Geography / Relief and climate
In the past, the Jerez vine growers divided the production area into pagos or estates, small vineyard areas having similar soil and mesoclimate and limited by topographical features. So, within the production area there is a part traditionally known as Jerez Superior which comprises the estates with whitish soils, and another called Zona comprising land with silty and sandy soils.
The sherry-producing area known as the Marco de Jerez has broad, gently rolling horizons characterized by unusual white soil, known as albariza (from alba in Latin, meaning white). This is ideal soil for growing the grapes used to make sherry and sherry vinegar. The albariza rock is white, organic marl formed by sedimentation of the waters of an inland sea that covered the whole area during the Oligocene. It is rich in calcium carbonate, clay and silica. This albariza soil has a high capacity for retaining moisture, storing the winter rainfall to nourish stocks during the dry months. Other types of clay and sandy soils in the Marco are also used to produce wines and vinegars but to a lesser degree.
The region’s climate is that of a warm southern area, much influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The western wind brings moisture from the sea, creating morning dew for the vines and helping them cope with the harsh summers and the effect of the hot eastern winds. During the growth period, the average temperature is 17.5º C (63.5º F). There are almost 300 days of clear skies and sunshine and bright light a year.
Average annual rainfall is 600 l/m2, mostly from October to May, providing water reserves in the soil to be used during the dry summer months. September is usually dry, helping the grapes to ripen healthily.
Consejo Regulador de la DOP Vinagre de Jerez
Avda. Álvaro Domecq, 2
11402 Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz)
Tel: (+34) 956 332 050
- Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
Sherry vinegar is usually aged in 500 liter casks made of American oak previously soaked in sherry.