Oloroso wines are made from the same grapes as Fino and Manzanilla but following the fermentation of wine, the fuller bodied barrels will be selected for Oloroso. Once it is fermented, it gets aged by a process called oxidative aging. In this process, the wine is fortified to a minimum of 17% alcohol. At this percentage, most microorganisms can not sustain life so the wine can age in full oak barrels for prolonged periods of time. During this aging process, the minimal oxygen exchange across the surface of the oak barrels adds depth and complexity to the wine, in addition to changing the color to shades of amber, over prolonged periods of time. The wine will also undergo a small but significant amount of evaporation. The evaporation can account for between a 3-5% volume loss but this also concentrates the alcohol further, pushing the alcohol to upwards of 22%.
For this pairing, I made pincho ribs that were coated in a rub consisting of smoked sweet paprika then basted in a honey sherry glaze. I paired them with an Aurora Oloroso.The wine was a light amber with thick luscious legs. It had aromas of dates, toasted nuts, marzipan, candied cherries, dried orange, and maple syrup. Even with all these sweet smells, it was very dry but full bodied. It also added a hint of salinity on the palate. The toasted subtle spice and sweetness from the paprika paired beautifully with this salinity. The level of sugar in the wine was a perfect match for the glaze that coated the ribs. Toasted notes in the wine were wonderful with the slow cooked ribs that developed a near caramel note as a result of the glaze. The pork had a mild flavor but carried the wine nicely. This was a delightful pairing, perfect for a meal or, if the ribs were cut into riblets, an appetizer!