Is there a person of drinking age that sees that word, and doesn’t think of “The Cask of Amontillado and Edgar Allan Poe? The classic short story that was mandatory reading when I was in Junior High, and I hope it still is.
In my early years, I bought some Sherry wines, which Amontillado is a type of. The word Sherry is actually an anglicized version of Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez at one time was the outpost of the Moorish sector of Spain; it was at the “frontier” before the Christian sector.
Sherry wines are a unique blend of years, as well as a blend of different “Sherry” type wines, and then they are fortified with brandy to raise the alcohol content. It is not my intent to do a treatise on the many steps to create Sherry. This procedure though ensures that the particular Sherry wine that you drink will be the same year after year, decade after decade, according to the taste preference of the particular Sherry house for each type they make. Consequently there are no vintage years for Sherry. You may also notice as you shop for a Sherry in the store, or look at the selection on a wine list, that a lot of brands sound English as opposed to Spanish. This fact alone explains why the anglicized name is how most people refer to the wine. Amontillado is by far the most “Sherry” of the types, and it is curious, because the name is from a village Montillado about a hundred miles away from Jerez de la Frontera. The wines produced in Montillado will remind one of a Jerez de la Frontera Amontillado.
A good Amontillado has a rich smooth taste with a taste of the terroir. It should not be confused with “Sherry” wines encountered in America, as most are sweet distant relatives in “name” only. Though a few American wineries have begun the process of developing a “Sherry” wine, in the time honored and classic style, I have not tried one yet for a comparison.
At one time, I imagined that a fine wine cellar must have some Sherry wines to be complete. Even though I have many great dessert wines in my cellar, I no longer have any Sherry resting. Nowadays, if the whim hits me, I prefer to order a fine Sherry after dessert and before the cognac in a restaurant setting.