Wine, vin, vino (from Latin vinum) is one of the common attributes of human civilizations to have accompanied them since the dawn of their history. Only beer comes as a more fundamental and widespread drink. More basic liquids, such as milk or even water, are otherwise naturally encountered. Wine needs its making. Turning water into wine is, not innocently, one of the most striking manifestations of divine intervention through the human hand.
Wine is a form of gastronomical Art which requires much expertise to be properly degustated, let alone identified. It can quickly become a luxury item. An illustration of such a combination can be found with the famous Château Mouton Rothschild wine, which bottles come with a label designed by an important artist of the time. The 1977 cru got a different type of distinction as it was used to label a stay of the Queen of England at the estate instead.
Wine with added distilled content (that is, brandy) are called "fortified wine". Most famous instances are "Port" and "Sherry".
Sherry is produced in Jerez de la Frontera, and is actually the anglicisation of Jerez. This is very difficult to pronounce: [xeˈɾeθ]. I failed to order a bottle in Toledo upon my first visit in Spain in 2004, because I could not pronounce it close enough, even though I tried all the possible variations to a very confused shopgirl.
Sherry should be drinked quickly once opened but preserves well when corked thanks to the stronger alcohol content. For this reason, it was a wine of choice for sailors, for instance, for his round-the-globe project, Magellan spent more on Sherry than on weapons. It became a British favourite following Drake's sacking of Cadiz in 1587, itself preparing an expedition to invade Britain with 2900 barrels in store, that reached England but without the Spanish soldiers.
Of the various types of Jerez, the "Fino", dry and slightly salty, is one of the most emblematic product, with its peculiar yellowish color that in some mysterious way differs from all the palettes of a regular white wine. This is one of my favourite. Elena prefers the sweater versions.
We visited the "bodega" of Tío Pepe in Jerez on 2 August (2016). A highlight there is the signed casks from non-matching celebrities throughout decades of history (Churchill, Spielberg, Paco de Lucia, etc.)