…in particular and the Xerex sequence, in general: It has long been rhapsodized by many throughout history that wine most fine produces vision most fine. It might appear, at first blush, that such a thing cannot possibly be the case; after all, such a notion seems to fly in the face of reason; the intoxicant in wine is ethanol; and one ethanol molecule conforms and behaves very much like any other. Why then do dreamers, poets, writers, painters, musicians–artists of all stripes–continue to entertain this notion; or rather, why do they continue to have just such an experience, be inspired by their awe of it, and subsequently, feel compelled to recount it?
This series is my particular recounting. It is another piece of anecdotal evidence offered up to posterity; however, to me, it was and is my proof that these romantic notions–far from being simply notions–are, in fact true.
A note about sherry:
The word itself refers to the region in Spain wherein the drink originated. It is a simplification–a smoothing out, if you will–of the name for that region: “Jerez,” or even more formally, “Xerex,” which is an older name for the region, and hence, the drink.
It is essentially wine, which has been fortified in proof and flavor. There are three varieties: Fino, Amontillado, and Oloroso, which, listed in this order, go from dry to sweet in character.
Sherry is aged in what is called a “solera,” I believe; a complicated method of storage in oak barrels, which involves taking the finished product from the oldest barrels and topping them off with the newer. In that way, sherry trickles down the ages from barrel to barrel until, finally, it is raised to ones lips. The fineness of the final product is not necessarily dependent upon the age of the solera, however there is some relationship, as sherry, Jerez, or even Xerex, if you should prefer its more formal name, must be aged before it is ready for drinking.
My own vision came from a particularly fine Oloroso with a nearly five-hundred year old solera. If nothing else, the very age involved certainly justifies the name “Xerex.”
I remember you telling the story many times of your Oloroso night and am very glad to see it realized in a true series of poetry.