Tag Archives: Viognier

Q & A: Is Dryness in Wine Relative?

Question from Jon: I remember from my early days, just getting into wine, I took a component tasting class at Merryvale. What kept blowing all us away is that whenever we were asked if a wine we were tasting had any residual sugar, we always said, “yes.” But the correct answer kept coming back as “bone dry!” 

Reply: In truth, Jon is the owner of Pantheon Cellars these days so, for him, this question was answered yea, long ago. But it’s still a good one!

In my early days, like most novices, it was comforting to cling to absolutes and my answer to the question would probably have been “No.” But, as we learn more about virtually everything in life – not just wine – we figure out that there are many shades of gray. It makes life more complicated, but also more interesting don’t you think? 

Here’s the deal: If you work in the absolute environment of a wine lab then you’d know that we say the wine is dry if it measures half of a percent sugar or less. Winemakers generally let the yeast use up all the ferment-able sugar, when they set out to make a dry wine, and that will put them at around .02% or something like that – very, very dry. However…

Fruitiness tricks your brain/palate into detecting sugar that ain’t there. When I serve a bone-dry Viognier there’s a pretty good chance that the taster will say “This is too sweet for me – do you have anything drier?” And, I’ve learned that this taster actually doesn’t much care for very ripe, fruity wines.  Continue reading

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