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Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for January 19, 2000


Dry Sack Flashback

1971 Class


Flashback to a letter of April 30, 1971:

    "Dear Fred,
    Thank you for the photographs of you and your wife showing the use of Williams & Humbert's Dry Sack sherry."

...Julius Wile, Dry Sack Importer, N.Y.C.

Quotes from our 1971 class handout:

"Dry Sack is the prestige sherry of Williams and Humbert, said to be the largest sherry shippers in the world. Sherry is blended from rows of barrels, one row stacked on top of the next. The youngest sherry is in the highest tier, and works its way down through the years as the finished sherry is drawn off the bottom row. This unique blending system is called a solera, from the Spanish word suelo or 'ground'...where resides that all-important bottom row. Since new wine is added annually, the solera can continue indefinitely. The Dry Sack solera was completed in 1904 and Dry Sack was first sold the following year."

Solera Especial Dry Sack  

The Rest of the Story

So Dry Sack is approaching its 100th year anniversary. What about Williams & Humbert's origins? Well, note that our 1971 label reads "Jerez and London." (Jerez is the southern Spanish town where Sherry originated.) Alexander Williams married Amy Humbert in England in 1875. Amy came complete with cash (dad's) and a hard-working brother, Arthur Humbert. The young groom put both to work immediately. Only one year later Alexander and Amy were living in Jerez, shipping sherry to Arthur in London. Two more years and they shipped the equivalent of 25,000 cases. Only three more years and they shipped the equivalent of HALF A MILLION cases! Twenty four years later the next generation of the two families sold the first Dry Sack...95 years later, here's our Wine of the Day.

Solera Especial Dry Sack, Oloroso Sherry
Williams & Humbert, Estd. 1877 in Jerez, Spain
Age—15 Years Plus
Style—Oloroso is a rich type of sherry. For centuries its been an after-dinner treat. I like it particularly with assorted nuts and white cheeses and good conversation.
Beginners—Those just learning about sherry often enjoy it more "on the rocks" (on ice cubes).
Price—$30 range (great gift for true wine buffs)

Postscript—The Name Game

The first shipment to England of what would become Spain's most famous wine was labelled "Vino de Jerez, Seco." In London, "Jerez" was Anglicized to "sherry," and "seco" became "Sack." By Shakespeare's time, "sack" was a synonym for "sherry." Williams & Humbert have the sole rights to use "sack" commercially in the name "Dry Sack." (Grossman's Guide, 1964)

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created January 2000