As a wine consultant, I get many questions about sweet wine and dry wine. My favorite is how can a wine be dry when it’s wet. That’s a really good question. Today we’re going to delve into this delicious topic. Are you ready?
What Determines Whether a Wine Is Sweet or Dry?
It all has to do with how much sugar is in the wine. When you make wine, you add yeast to your grape juice, which causes the sugar in the grape juice to turn into alcohol. This process is called fermentation.
If you let the fermentation go all the way, you will end up with dry wine, because all the sugar will be converted into alcohol. If you stop the fermentation part way, you are likely to end up with sweet wine, because the still has sugar in it.
On average, the longer you ferment grape juice, the drier the wine will be.
What Constitutes Sweet Wine and Dry Wine?
For a wine to be considered sweet, its residual sugar level (sugars left in a wine after the alcoholic fermentation finishes) must be above 20%.
For a wine to be considered dry, it must have less than 1% residual sugar. When a wine is called bone dry, it has less than 0.5% residual sugar.
Comparing Sweet Wines and Dry Wines
I’m sure you know that you can make a sweet Riesling, an off-dry Riesling and even a dry Riesling.
I came across a brand new Forbes article that describes the differences. Here’s one line from the article: “Residual sugar in a Riesling ranges from 3 grams, i.e., completely dry, to 300 grams per litre and can be anything in between. It gives an incredible range of flavours.”
Can You Always Tell Sweet Wines and Dry Wines?
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether a wine is sweet or dry. Let’s say you have a bottle of wine that tastes sweet, but you find out from the winemaker that it has only 5g of residual sugar. Guess what. You’re interpreting sweetness for fruitiness. Fruit forward is a term that is often used for these types of wines.
On the dry wine side, you can have a wine that tastes incredibly dry, but it happens to have a lot of tannins. It’s a very young Cabernet. Truth be told, most Cabernets are dry. But you need to be careful not to interpret heavy tannin tastes with dryness.
Whether you’re a sweet wine fan or a dry wine fan, I’ve got you covered. At WineShop At Home, we have a wide variety of wines. If you need some good wines, please let me know. Cheers!
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
WineShop At Home