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Friday, February 26, 2021

The First Wine to Circumnavigate the Globe

Most Sherry in Spain is bone-dry & used as an aperitif or with a 1st or 2nd course

The 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s around the world voyage was celebrated in 2019.   In 1519 Magellan set sail in a fleet of five ships from southern Spain.   King Carlos I of Spain financed most of the voyage in an attempt to outmaneuver the Portuguese who had locked in the eastern route to spice-laden Indonesia.   

In the course of preparing for this 500th year celebration, historians uncovered a 200 page document detailing the supplies loaded on the fleet before it sailed.  This original manuscript lists 250 casks of Sherry (166,500 bottles).  In today’s dollars, the price would be approximately $80,000.  Magellan spent more on Sherry than he did on armaments to protect his men. 

It’s no surprise that the first wine to circumnavigate the globe was Sherry.  One of the world’s oldest wines, Sherry has been part of the world’s greatest empires and civilizations.  Enjoyed by the Phoenicians (who brought the original grapes for Sherry to Spain), and then by the Greeks, Romans, Moors, Spanish and the British.  During the period when Magellan set sail, Sherry was one of the world’s most popular wines.

                                   The town of Jerez is the capital of Sherry production

Sherry is also produced in the south of Spain very near the area from which Magellan sailed, so this may have also influenced why it was chosen.   Since then laws were enacted in the 1930’s to prevent Sherry from being made anywhere else but a small area surrounding the city of Jerez (not far from the straits of Gibraltar).  While many Americans associate Sherry with a sweet wine, there is an entire portfolio of bone-dry Sherry.  In fact, in Spain the most popular Sherry is completely dry with no trace of sugar.

Wine-Knows will be visiting the Sherry wine countryside this October on our tour to Seville (55 miles from Jerez), and Granada.  There are only four spaces remaining.  Home to the flamenco and mind-dazzling Moorish architecture, this part of southern Spain is the most fascinating in all of the country.

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