At least 90 percent of the grapes planted in the Jerez region are palomino, and that variety is the basis of most sherries—with pedro ximenez and moscatel used for sweet wines (for instance cream sherries, in which they may be blended with oloroso).
FINO: Dry, delicate, and pale. Fino is made from wines affected by a spontaneous yeast, called flor, which grows on their surface as they age in the solera.
MANZANILLA: Similar to fino, but slightly sharper.
AMONTILLADO: An older fino, at least eight years in wood, that has developed in a specific way (not all of them do), growing golden in color and acquiring a nutty flavor.
OLOROSO: Sherry that does not develop flor, but that grows dark and flavorful with age. Some are sweet; the best, though, are dry but incredibly concentrated and complex.
PALO CORTADO: Light oloroso-style sherry that resembles amontillado, but usually with more complex character. A comparatively rare wine.
CREAM SHERRY: Pale auburn to brownish in color and medium to sickly sweet.