You may have come across Amontillado as an ingredient in a drink or food recipe and wondered what it is.
Well, Amontillado is a type of Sherry wine made in Spain.
The world of Sherry can be a complicated one, but one that is worth getting to know.
In this article, we are going to explain everything you need to know about Amontillado.
- 1 What is Amontillado?
- 2 What does Amontillado taste like?
- 3 Amontillado meaning in English
- 4 Amontillado pronunciation
- 5 How much alcohol is in Amontillado Sherry?
- 6 Is Amontillado Sherry dry or sweet?
- 7 How Amontillado Sherry is made
- 8 When and how to drink Amontillado Sherry?
- 9 Temperature to serve Amontillado Sherry?
- 10 What is the shelf life of Amontillado Sherry?
- 11 Should I keep Amontillado sherry in the fridge?
- 12 How long does Amontillado last once opened?
- 13 What kind of glass do you serve Amontillado Sherry in?
- 14 Amontillado food pairing
- 15 Amontillado sherry substitutes
- 16 FAQ
What is Amontillado?
Amontillado is a dry Sherry wine.
Sherry is a fortified wine made in Jerez, in the south of Spain.
Fortified wines are made by adding a neutral spirit to a base wine, making them higher in alcohol than a regular wine.
Amontillado is unusual or special in that it is aged both biologically and oxidatively – most Sherry is aged in one or the other style only.
Undergoing both ageing processes results in unique and complex flavors.
It ranges in color from golden yellow to amber.
What does Amontillado taste like?
Amontillado Sherry is dry with intense flavors of hazelnuts, tobacco and aromatic herbs.
That said, the flavors in Amontillado can differ, depending on how it was aged and for how long.
Amontillado meaning in English
The word “amontillado” is a reference to the Montilla region, where this style of Sherry originated. So, a rough translation would be “from Montilla”.
Pronounce Amontillado AH-MON-TEA-YA-DOH.
How much alcohol is in Amontillado Sherry?
The alcohol content in Amontillado Sherry ranges between 16 and 22% ABV.
Is Amontillado Sherry dry or sweet?
Amontillado is a dry style of Sherry. Most Amontillado Sherry is bone dry.
The sugar levels in Amontillado are very low at <5 grams of sugar per liter (gr./l).
That said, most Amontillado Sherry is <1 gr./l.
To learn more about sweetness levels in Sherry, see the article below:
How Amontillado Sherry is made
In the vineyard: Amontillado is made with the Palomino grape.
Palomino is a relatively neutral tasting white grape. This makes it ideal for Sherry production where flavors are created during the maturation process from a neutral base wine.
The Jerez DO has a hot and sunny Mediterranean climate, with coastal regions being a bit cooler.
The albariza soil ensures that the vines can thrive despite the heat and low rainfall.
Albariza soil has a high chalk content which provides excellent drainage while at the same time, it can store enough water at depth to sustain the vines during hot weather.
Base wine: The grapes are picked and brought to the winery where they are fermented in large stainless-steel tanks into a dry base wine with an ABV of approximately 11-12%.
Classification of the wine: At this point, the winemaker classifies the wine into wines for biological ageing and wines for oxidative ageing.
Flor, a film-forming yeast starts to grow on the wine.
Amontillado is unique because it undergoes both biological ageing AND oxidative ageing. Almost all other Sherry wines undergo only one or the other.
Fortification: The wine is fortified with a neutral spirit. Amontillado wine undergoes biological ageing first.
Wines for biological ageing are fortified to between 15-15.5%.
This level of fortification is ideal for flor to thrive.
The yeast forms a thick layer on the surface of the wine that feed off of the alcohol, other nutrients and oxygen.
The flor produces carbon dioxide and acetaldehyde. The acetaldehyde gives Sherry that is aged biologically its distinctive flavor.
Sobretabla: The wine is set aside for a few months after fortification before being matured in the famous Sherry solera system. This period is called “sobretabla”.
The Solera System: Sherry wine is matured in a system called the “solera system.”
The wine is matured in large old oak barrels (600 litres) called butts.
The butts are not filled all the way, allowing oxygen for the flor to feed on.
Groups of butts create levels known as criaderas. Wine is moved between levels over time creating a blend of older and younger wine.
Following a period of biological ageing in the solera system, Amontillado wine then undergoes oxidative ageing.
When the flor on the wine dies, the wine is refortified to 17% ABV, and it then undergoes oxidative ageing in a solera system.
Finally, it is bottled for drinking.
When and how to drink Amontillado Sherry?
You may associate Sherry with being sipped on from small glasses by daintly ladies in Jane Austin novels; however, Sherry is a versatile drink suited to many occassions.
Serve Amontillado as an aperifit. It makes the perfect pre-dinner drink to whet your appetite for dinner.
Amontillado works well with tapas such as olives, almonds and Iberico ham.
The flavors of Amontillado pair well with cheese. Serve it with your next cheese board.
Amontillado can be paired many types of food, including white meats, cheeses, and vegetables like mushrooms. See below for more details on pairing with food.
Amontillado Sherry can be used as an ingredient in cocktails.
Temperature to serve Amontillado Sherry?
Serve Amontillado Sherry between 12°-14° C (54-57°F) in a white wine glass.
What is the shelf life of Amontillado Sherry?
In general, Sherry is bottled ready to drink and does not improve with age.
So, there is no benefit to keeping Sherry stored long term.
An unopened bottle of Amontillado Sherry will keep for up to 3 years.
Unlike other wines, Sherry should be stored upright in order to minimize oxidation.
Store in dark conditions with cool consistent temperatures.
Avoid large fluctuations in temperature as this can damage wine.
Should I keep Amontillado sherry in the fridge?
An open a bottle of Amontillado Sherry should be tightly corked and be kept in the fridge.
How long does Amontillado last once opened?
An open bottle that is tightly corked and refrigerated will last up to 2 months.
What kind of glass do you serve Amontillado Sherry in?
Traditionally, Sherry was served in small Sherry glasses; however, nowadays it is recommended to serve Sherry, including Amontillado, in a white wine glass.
White wine glasses are larger than a traditional Sherry glass, allowing swirling and therefore air to open up the wine.
The extra room/air also makes it easier to smell the aromas in Sherry using a white wine glass vs a traditional Sherry glass.
Amontillado food pairing
The key to pairing Amontillado with food is to balance the wine’s dry nutty and complex flavors with foods that enhance its flavors and create a satisfying experience.
Almonds and Other Nuts
Why it Pairs Well: The nutty, roasted flavors of Amontillado sherry are enhanced and complemented by the flavors and crunchiness of nuts.
General Guidelines: Choose roasted, unsalted nuts for the best pairing. Almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews pair especially well.
Specific Foods/Dishes: Marcona almonds, known as the “queen of almonds”, are a Spanish delicacy. They are an excellent choice to pair with Amontillado.
Mixed nuts also work well to snack on while sipping Amontillado.
Why it Pairs Well: The creamy, salty flavors of semi-cured cheeses, create a complimentary contrast to the nutty notes and acidity of Amontillado.
General Guidelines: Go for cheeses like Manchego, Comte, Leerdammer and Monterey Jack.
Specific Foods/Dishes: Enjoy thin slices of Manchego cheese with a glass of Amontillado for a simple but satisfying pairing.
Why it Pairs Well: The flavors of Amontillado shine when paired with a variety of Spanish tapas. The acidity in Amontillado cuts through the richness, while its nutty, oxidative notes enhance the flavors.
General Guidelines: Pair Amontillado with tapas like chorizo, Jamón Ibérico, olives and Spanish tortilla.
Specific Foods/Dishes: Try a classic combination of Amontillado with boquerones (marinated white anchovies) or gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp).
Why they Pairs Well: The earthy flavors of mushrooms work well with the flavors of Amontillado, creating a well-balanced pairing.
General Guidelines: Choose a mix of wild and regular mushrooms to add to toast or a risotto.
Specific Foods/Dishes: Try a glass of Amontillado with mushroom risotto. Drizzle with truffle oil for a more decadent dish.
White meats like chicken
Why it Pairs Well: White meats like chicken can be paired successfully with Amontillado Sherry.
General Guidelines: Pair white meats, like chicken, with spicy or creamy sauces – both will work well with Amontillado.
Specific Foods/Dishes: Serve Amontillado with roast chicken with a creamy sauce.
Amontillado sherry substitutes
If you need an alternative to Amontillado, you will want something that has a similar flavor and color profile to Amontillado, as well as similar alcohol levels.
Here are some options that you can use instead of Amontillado:
Oloroso sherry is a great substitute for Amontillado. It is a dry oxidative Sherry that has the same nutty characteristics of Amontillado, making it a close match in terms of flavor and color.
Palo Cortado Sherry
Palo Cortado is another excellent alternative. It is also a dry Sherry with a similar color, taste and aroma profile to Oloroso combined with citrus and buttery notes.
While Manzanilla is pale lemon in color and is lighter than Amontillado, it can still work as a substitute. It has a similar dryness and works well in recipes or as an aperitif.
Dry Madeira Wine
Madeira is a fortified wine made on the island of Madeira.
It is made in a range of styles from dry to sweet.
Dry Madeira, such as Sercial, while pale in color and slightly perfumed, can taste similar to the nutty, dry qualities of Amontillado.
It has a similar alcohol content and can be used in recipes that call for Amontillado.
Dry White Port
Dry white Port can be a decent substitute, especially in cooking. As a fortified wine, it offers a similar alcohol level and has a dry profile that complements various dishes.
Try Taylor Fladgate Chip dry White Port.
What is the difference between Amontillado and Sherry?
Sherry, is an umbrella name for all fortified wine made in the Jerez region in Spain.
There are a variety of styles of Sherry with different names. Amontillado is the name of one type of dry Sherry wine.
Does Amontillado Sherry go bad?
All Sherry is made ready to drink and does not benefit from further ageing. Unopened Amontillado will last up to 3 years.
After opening a bottle of Amontillado, replace the cork tightly and keep it in the fridge. It will last opened in these conditions for up to 2 months.
Is Amontillado Sherry stronger than wine?
Yes, Amontillado Sherry is stronger than wine.
Amontillado is a fortified wine. Fortified wines are dry wines that have a 95% ABV neutral spirit added to it.
Amontillado wines range from 16-22% ABV. For comparison, regular wines range from 11-14+% ABV.
Can I drink Amontillado after dinner?
Amontillado pairs well with cheese, so it would be suitable for a cheese course.
After-dinner drink are traditionally dessert wines.
Dessert wines are sweet. So, a sweeter Sherry like PX is more suitable as a dessert wine.
That said, you can drink Amontillado whenever you like.
Is Amontillado a Medium Sherry?
No, Medium Sherry and Amontillado are not the same thing.
Both wines are aged both biologically and oxidatively.
Medium Sherry is made in almost exactly the same way as an Amontillado Sherry, except it has PX added at the end, which makes it sweet.
PX is a sweet Sherry made using sun-dried PX grapes.
So, Medium Sherry is sweet and Amontillado Sherry is dry.