If you’re naturally curious about wines, you will come to a point where you ask: what does dry wine mean?
Dryness is not something you’d associate with something as fluid as wine, but “dry” is a commonly used word among wine experts and enthusiasts.
What is Dry Wine?
The dryness of wine simply refers to the amount of sugar residues per liter of wine. The driest wine has little to sugar residues which result in little to zero sweetness in taste as compared to traditional sweet wines.
Unless you specifically ask for a dessert wine, you will likely be given a dry wine when you order ‘wine’ in general in restaurants and formal dining establishments.
Dry Wine is a Product of the Fermentation Process
To better understand how wine becomes dry or sweet; first, it is important to comprehend the wine-making process.
First and foremost, make time to harvest grapes. The grapes are placed into vessels where they are fermented.
During the process of fermentation, yeast consumes the natural sugar in grapes and turns them into alcohol. When fermentation stops, and there is still sugar left, wine tends to taste sweet.
However, wine becomes “dry” (or have lesser to no sweet taste) when it is fermented completely. Most winemakers consider wine to be dry if it carries no more than two grams of sugar per liter, but certain factors like acidity, can also affect the wine’s perceived dryness. Generally, the more acid wine has, the sweeter it tastes.
Dry Wine can Taste Fruity, But Not Sweet
There really are no hard and fast rules when it comes to nailing a wine’s dryness or sweetness. Standard descriptions can vary wildly from one country and winemaker to another.
What can sometimes cause confusion with a wine’s perceived sweetness or dryness is the fruitiness of flavors that linger on the wine. Wine can be dry (meaning it carries little sweetness or is totally devoid of sweetness) but can have traces of fruity flavors in it.
Grape is the only fruit involved in the winemaking process, but the resulting wines may carry other fruity flavors, such as in the case of merlot which could taste of black cherry and zinfandel which has hints of blackberry flavor.
These fruits are also known for their sweetness. Therefore, it is easy to make the association of a wine’s sweetness to the fruity flavors it carries, despite the fact that wine has very little to zero amount of sugar residues.
Furthermore, dryness relates to the feeling of “dryness” you feel in your mouth after drinking the wine.
This can add more to the confusion. It is important to understand that higher amount of tannins can lead to the feeling of dryness in the mouth, but that doesn’t imply that wine is actually dry.
The Dryness Of Wine Is Relative Around The World
There really is no absolute standard for wine to be sweet or dry, although obviously, sweet wines taste sweet. One of the best ways to determine dryness or sweetness is to measure the residual sugar in the wine.
According to Wine Maker, dry wines have 0.2 percent residual sugar per liter; off-dry wines could have residual sugar between 1-5 percent and sweet wines have 5-15 percent in residual sugar. Typically, the Clinitest Method, Hydrometer method, and other laboratory methods measure residual sugar.
It is also essential to note that what might be dry wine in France might be sweet in Germany and what might be sweet for one winemaker may not be the same for another winemaker.
Furthermore, labels attached to the wine affect the perception of a wine’s dryness. Champagnes, for instance, carry the name of “brut” and “extra dry.” It might be easy to assume that between the two, extra dry is drier given that it carries “extra” to the label.
But the truth is, “brut” is superior in dryness as it takes around 0-.015 percent in residual sugar while extra dry has around 1.2 – 2.4 percent
Wine is Good for Your Health
Drinking wine, in general, is proven beneficial for your health. According to numerous studies, wines have a right amount of antioxidants, especially the white wine.
White wine can also help you lose weight, manage aging and help improve vascular health. Red wine, on the other hand, can also improve heart health, enhances good cholesterol and has excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Conclusion On “What Does Dry Wine Mean?”
Knowing the differences in wine will allow you to appreciate wine even more, whether you’re drinking wine out of leisure or because of its health benefits.
It also helps you know what your preferred wine is in terms of dryness and sweetness. This added knowledge will definitely allow you to enjoy all your future sips of wine.