What is a dry wine? What does it mean when someone says it is dry? Are they referring to the “dry” taste you feel in your mouth when you take a sip? Nope, wine isn’t considered dry because of the dry sensation you feel when you drink it. Many people mistakenly misuse the term because it seems to make sense. However, the world of wine, the term dry refers to the amount of sugar left in the wine. Sounds confusing? Don’t worry; we’ll explain everything below. You’ll also find a dry wine list as well.
What Does Dry Wine Mean?
What are dry white wine? What are dry red wine? Are there any differences? Regardless of whether its red or white wine, the term dry still refers to the same thing; the amount of sugar left in the wine. Dry white wine and dry red wine are wine that is less sweet. To get a better understanding, let’s quickly talk about how wine is made.
Wine is made from fermented grapes (or berries, fruits, etc.). Yeast is used in the fermentation process; which eats the sugar and turns it into alcohol. The process can be stopped early for a sweet wine, or it can be allowed to ferment longer. Dry wines are usually allowed to continue much longer or until the process is complete and there is very little sugar left.
Essentially, dry wine is a wine that is less sweet. A very dry wine is wine in which the entire process is allowed to finish; resulting in a wine with very little sugar left. The term residual sugar is used to refer to the amount of sugar left in the wine.
Different Styles of Wine
Now that you know what makes a dry wine dry let’s look at the various styles of wine; including multiple types dry wines.
A dry wine is not sweet. Most, and many times, all of the sugar is allowed to be converted into alcohol during the fermentation process. A dry wine can still carry flavors from fruits and berries even though there is no residual sugar.
List of Dry Wines
A quick list of some popular dry wines. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start.
- Sauvignon Blanc
Off Dry Wine
What is an off dry wine? An off dry wine is considered semi-dry. There is still some residual sugar left in the wine, so there’s still some sweetness, but not too sweet. There is a mild sweetness that still lingers in the wine. Think of it as being in the middle of dry and sweet.
List of Off-Dry Wines
Some popular off-dry wines. There are many more, but these are a good start.
- Pinot blanc
- Pino grigio/gris
- Gruner veltliner
- Champagne/sparkling wine
Sweet wine is exactly as their name implies; they’re sweet. There is more residual sugar in the wine; thus it is sweeter than both dry and off-dry wine.
Is Dry Wine Good?
Many people who are new to wine and have just learned of the different styles of wine as this question. The answer is truly; dry wine is indeed excellent. However, for many newcomers, I’d recommend starting off with an off-dry wine or even a sweet wine first.
Why start off with a sweet wine first? Because for many of us, we are used to high sugar foods and drinks. Think soda, juice, etc. A dry wine has very little sugar, so it’s going to take some getting used to. Starting off with something sweeter helps make this transition a little easier. This recommendation does vary from person to person, so it does depend on the person and his/her personal preference.
Since we’re talking about dry wine, it’s crucial not to exclude tannins. Afterall, tannins are what is often mistaken for dryness in wine. They produce the sensation in your mouth that makes it feel like it’s drying out your mouth.
Tannins come from grape skins and seeds. It can also occur from wood if the wine is aged in wood. They added a lingering bitter taste to the wine; which isn’t a bad thing at all. The bitterness helps balance the wine, and it also adds much-wanted complexities to the wine.
Not only do tannins help make the wine taste better, but they also help extend the life of the wine. Tannins help wine last longer.
In summary, dry red wine and dry white wine have low residual sugar; they’re not sweet. Do keep in mind that labels do not state if it’s dry, off-dry or sweet. Some can be dry, and others can be sweet. Use the two lists above to help you determine if it’s dry or not. Otherwise, just grab a bottle and get ready for a little discovery. Weather you choose to try out something dry, or something a little sweeter, don’t forget to consider pairing it with something else (like cheese or chocolate). A glass of wine is great by itself, or with some fine food so don’t forget it.