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"Domenic's Gold Medal Sherry Recipes" 

  This paper was provided by Domenic Carestti.  He gave this
presentation to the (AWS) Home Winemaking Seminar in Rochester NY several years ago.

It was also given to me verbally by T Cefali.  I could not write fast
enough!  Thank you, both!

To make a sherry one needs to:

Add tons of cane sugar
and bake and oxidize

Sherry is a fortified wine that has been heat treated and oxidized.

You can take a wine that did not turn out to your liking and turn it into a decent

All you need are an aquarium pump to oxygenate the wine, a 40-100 watt
light bulb/fixture for heat, a thermometer, rheostat and an insulated enclosure
(dead refrigerator) plus cane sugar and a low cost, high proof DRY spirit
like vodka, gin or brandy.  Your fortifying alcohol should be neutral, as the
baking process will destroy most flavors.  Baking temperatures should be
between 90 to 110 degrees F. for 2-3 weeks or less depending on the recipe.  
Flavoring extracts such as vanilla, hazelnut, etc. can be added after baking.

                                                    DRY SHERRY


90% white wine

10% red wine



Alcohol: 11.0-13.0 %

Brix: -2.0 to -1.0 g/100 ml with hydrometer (bone dry)

Total Acid: 0.65-0.75 g/100 ml as tartaric (TA)

pH: 3.0-3.2

Varieties that work best: any low pH/high acid white.  Can also use
Catawba 100% as long as it has some pink tint.  You need a light pink color
so the end color after baking is a pale amber.  (Remember, this is
Domenic Carestti speaking and writing)  I  would also use any white wine that is old
or oxidized or has any off odor except for vinegar
Favorite varieties are Niagara, Catawba, Early concord (cold pressed).



Alcohol: 11.0-13.0%

Brix: -2.5 to -1.5 g/100 ml with hydrometer

Total Acid: 0.66-0.75 (TA)

Color: medium red (do not use a dark red)

Varieties that work best: Concord is the best variety for making sherry. 
You can also use any red wine that is old or oxidized or has an off odor,
except for vinegar.  

Lot Size: Blend up to 3.5 gallons of base wine only, in a 5 gallon glass or
stainless container. 
Do not use plastic containers.  Other ingredients
are added to make the volume up to 4.0 gallons.

Sugar: Cane sugar must be added to the base wine because as the wine
bakes, the sugar caramelizes which creates the nutty, sherry character as
well as turning the color brown.

For the dry sherry, you need 5% sugar or 5 grams of cane sugar
for every 100 mls of wine.  For every gallon of base wine,
add 50 grams of cane sugar.

Brandy: A source of alcohol needs to be added to the base wine mixture in addition to the sugar.  If you have access to grape spirits in the 190° proof range, which is 95% alcohol, use the following chart to adjust the alcohol to 19.0-20.0% (sherry) for every gallon of base wine:

Alcohol of base wine Alcohol of spirits Spirits to add/gallon
11.0 95.0 450 ml
11.5 95.0 430 ml
12.0 95.0 400 ml
12.5 95.0 380 ml
13.0 95.0 350 ml





In the absence of grape spirits, use any store purchased 80 proof spirits (40% alcohol). Purchase the least expensive brand because any flavor will be baked out during the process. 

Alcohol of base wine Alcohol of  spirits Spirits to add/gallon
11.0 40 1700 ml
11.5 40 1600 ml
12.0 40 1500 ml
12.5 40 1400 ml
13.0 40 1300 ml






Process: Mix the wine, sugar, and spirits in accordance with the above charts in the 5.0 gallon container.  The process assumes that you have access to a sherry baking system.

Bake the mixture at 90-110°F (in the presence of high wattage lamps) while at the same time allowing air (using an aquarium pump) to enter into the bottom of the container continuously.  You will need to let this process continue 24 hrs/day for at least two weeks.  The sherry is completely baked when any pink color reverts to a light amber color and the flavor tastes like sherry or oxidized wine.

Fining: The secret to sherry made by this process is in the fining.  After the sherry completes the baking process, while it is still warm, stop the aquarium pump but leave the heat lamp on.  You will need to have purchased gelatin, tannin, and bentonite.

Tannin/Gelatin: Take out 2 separate 100 ml samples of the dry sherry wine and heat one 100 ml sample to a rolling boil.  Add 2.3 grams of tannin and stir to dissolve in that  100 ml sample.  Then add 4.5 grams of gelatin and stir to dissolve into the same 100 ml sample.  Add the 100 ml sample with the dissolved tannin and gelatin back to the 5 gallon dry sherry container and allow to settle for 24 hours.  Leave the heat lamp on.

Bentonite: Mix 5.0 grams of bentonite granules into the 2nd 100 ml sample of dry sherry. Allow to sit for 24 hours.  This will form a thick slurry when it is done.  

After 24 hours, pour the entire 100 ml slurry into the top of the 5 gallons of sherry.  Allow it to settle on its ownYou can now turn off the heat lamp. 

Racking: When the bentonite is completely packed down, you can rack the sherry and/or filter it into another container.  Taste for smoothness.

SO2 addition: After racking or filtering, add the equivalent of 30 ppm sulfur dioxide to the 5 gallons of racked sherry.  The SO2 helps to bind any undesirable pigments remaining in the sherry and helps keep the sherry fresh. 

Wood/Bottle Age: The sherry is ready to drink immediately after fining or filtering. For a smoother sherry, you can bottle it and store it in the bottle in a cool area for an indefinite period of time.  Sherry gets better the longer it ages in the bottle. 

If you have a small oak barrel (3-5 gallons), you can age it in the oak barrel.  You can also add some oak complexity in the absence of a barrel by making an oak extract. 

Oak Extract: Obtain 25 grams of oak chips from your home winemaking shop.  Add these chips to 200 mls of the finished sherry wine and allow the chips to soak in the wine for 72 hours. 

After 72 hours, drain the wine through a sieve (a household strainer will do) and collect the wine.  Discard the spent chips. 

Add 100 mls of the oak infused liquid back into the 5 gallon lot of sherry.  If more flavor is desired, add the entire 200 mls of oak extract into the sherry. 

Serving: Serve dry sherry ice cold. It’s a great appetizer wine.  The finished color should be a pale amber, almost like an oxidized white wine.  Flavor should be slightly tart but not overly tart. 



Everything you need to make cream sherry is identical to making dry sherry with three exceptions:

1.     The base wine is 100% red wine.  Use any old red wine that is dark in color (like port wine color). 
2.     The total acidity of the red wine should be in the 0.45-0.55 range.
3.     The amount of sugar to add before baking is: 500 grams for every gallon of wine to be baked.

Alcohol additions are the same per above as is baking, fining, racking, and aging.

If you bake the cream sherry base for about 5 days, just to turn the color a little brown, you will have a nice Tawny "Port".  Follow the same fining directions as above.   Try a Concord for this process. 

Otherwise, bake the cream sherry base for 2-3 weeks.

A medium sweet sherry can be made by blending 50% white wine with 50% red wine and adding 300 grams of cane sugar for every gallon of wine to be baked.  Everything the else is the same as the dry sherry processing.

OR  If you make both dry and cream sherry, you can make medium sweet sherry by blending dry and cream sherry 50/50.

Domenic likes to serve cream sherry over vanilla ice cream and it is great on chocolate ice cream, too!




May Your Wines Fall Bright!