Tag Archives: what is dry wine

What is Dry Wine?

no sugar

I was checking search data on the blog, hoping to find out what it is that you really want to know. The top search over the last several months is on “Moscato.” I’ve got a post on that coming right up.

What came in second? “What is dry wine?”

Okee dokee. That’s a pretty good question because it’s not cut and dried – pun intended 😉 – dryness is relative.

While, in the rest of the world dry is the opposite of wet, in the wine world dry is the opposite of sweet. I’ve noticed that a lot of folks who want to appear sophisticated about wine make a point of saying that they don’t drink the sweet stuff. Well, let me tell you, they’re missing out on a whole lot of fun because some of the most exquisite and sought-after wines in the world are sweet wines done right! Continue reading

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What is Dry Wine?

Yeast

Busy little yeasty beasties

In my post a few days ago about the correct order for serving different styles of wine I wrote very briefly about what the term “dry” means. I think it’s worth taking a little more time to dig deeper because our perception of dryness can differ from what the numbers indicate. 

As I said, most of the world agrees that if the wine is about .5% sugar, no one can taste it. So, that, or less, is considered dry.

As a quick review, during the fermentation, yeast consumes the sugar in the grape juice and, as it does, the sugar’s converted to heat, carbon-dioxide gas and alcohol. To make dry wine, the winemaker just lets the yeast run amok and use up every last bit of fermentable sugar. To make sweet wine there are various ways of intervening before the wine goes dry, such as chilling the wine, adding sulfur dioxide, adding alcohol… Or, let the wine go dry and add back grape juice.

But there are other things to consider when it comes to our perception, as opposed to the lab report. Fruitiness can trick our palates into detecting sugar that isn’t there. This is especially true with intensely fruity varieties such as Muscat or Viognier. It just takes practice to be able to differentiate – that is most of the time. I think we all still get fooled from time to time – I know I do. Continue reading

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What’s the Correct Order for Serving Wine?

Question from Lily: I’m having a wine-tasting party and I wonder if there’s a correct order for serving wine.  

Reply: Hi, Lily. Thanks for asking! Assuming you’re serving some tidbits, they kind of cloud the issue – the food changes the wine and vice versa. Plus, if your friends are like mine, they’re total anarchists when it comes to eating and drinking…

However, there is a normal progression for wine tastings and when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. 

Here’s how it goes: Serve the wines from light to dark and dry to sweet. 

Why? The wines with deeper color usually are “bigger”, or heavier, than the lighter colored ones. If you taste the big wine first, the lighter wine seems almost flavorless. So, even within the white wine category, serve the lightest colored white first. 

TRIVIA! Color can be very communicative in terms of what to expect from the wine. Very light whites, those that are almost as clear as a glass of water, probably never saw the inside of a barrel and are still relatively young and fresh. Time in the barrel allows the wine to oxidize a bit, which deepens the color and concentrates the wine a bit so it’s a touch heavier. BTW, this continues in the bottle. So, if the wines are about the same age, it explains why your favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has almost no color and a rich glass of Chardonnay looks kind of yellow. 

What’s the difference between dry and sweet? Dry is the opposite of sweet. For most of us the threshold is about 1/2 of 1%. Anything less than that is referred to as “dry” and the fermentation may take the wine all the way down to something in the neighborhood of .02% – That’s DRY!  If you taste a sweet wine, followed by a dry one, the dry wine will taste sour.

TIP!  The same principle holds with food and wine pairing. If you pair sweet food with dry wine the wine will taste sour.  The wine should be at least as sweet as the food.

Lily, I hope your party is a blast! Cheers!

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