Travel - Spain: The Shopping Forecast

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No. 7: Sherry

Anyone who is partial to a drop of sherry will probably know that it comes from Jerez, a large town about 40km north-east of Cadiz in southern Spain. Tourists have long been visiting Andalucia and, with the Costa de la Luz nearby, there's plenty to see. A detour to Jerez is well worth the extra effort.

The town's affluence shows in the extravagant buildings, elegant ladies strolling from shop to shop and the pleasant leafy squares where you can sit in the evenings sipping a sherry. The town's aristocracy is Anglo- Andaluz thanks to years of intermarriage between wine-trading families (many of the wineries were originally set up with British capital, according to the Lonely Planet Guide to Spain, pounds 13.99).

Don't miss a tour of the sherry bodegas - where as well as discovering how sherry is made, you'll find out all the accompanying intrigue and discover the buildings and courtyards that go with it.

All sherry goes through a special ageing process (at least three years) called the solera system, but there are many different varieties of sherry. These are mainly divided up between fino (dry, pale and interesting) and oloroso (sweet, dark and lovely). Two well-known sherries are amontillado, a fairly dry and nutty wine, and manzanilla, a golden fino from nearby Sanlucar de Barrameda which has a more delicate flavour. Most of the bodegas run tours, but one of the largest is Gonzlez Byass (00 34 956 35 70 00) which has tours at 11am, 12noon and 1pm. These cost Ptas 500 (pounds 2) per person. You can buy a bottle of fino for Ptas 900 (pounds 4).

A bottle of Gonzlez Byass fino will cost pounds 5.89 from your local Oddbins (0181-944 4400 for nearest store). You would have to buy around 120 bottles of sherry in Jerez to make enough profit for Iberia's (0171-830 0011) current fare of pounds 223 from London to Jerez but, since you can only bring 2 litres of fortified wine back into the UK, you're probably better off sticking to a glass or two in a sunny courtyard in Jerez.

Gadget of the Week

Travellers, anxious friends and relatives or anyone with a passion for statistics will be glad of a browse through the handy little combat-pocket- sized book, World Wise - Your Passport to Safer Travel (pounds 6.99). Available by mail order from The Suzy Lamplugh Trust (0181-392 1839), the book is a miniature travel encyclopaedia, including everything from advice on planning a trip to a country-by-country directory, full of vital statistics.