Wine making is an art. It requires dedication, patience, and an understanding of everything that goes into making a great tasting wine.
Flavor profiles can change dramatically with just a minor adjustment to the wine making process. Different varietals of grapes, growing regions, and aging processes can all play a part in the overall taste of a wine.
But for a lot of casual wine drinkers there are only two things they focus on – is the wine white or red and is it sweet or dry?
All that hard work being put into producing the highest quality wines in the world aren’t super important to the casual wine drinker. As long it’s the color they like and taste they like, most of them won’t care where it was grown or how it was aged.
It’s unfortunate that this is the case, since there is a whole world of wonderful wines out there just waiting to be tasted, but it’s the truth. Some people who like sweet wines may just have never found a dry wine that they like, and vice versa.
Sweet wine vs dry wine is one of those things that most people have chosen a side on. They know which one they like and they just assume that because they like one over the other, that they won’t like anything on the other side of the line, but what actually makes a wine sweet or dry?
What Makes a Wine Dry or Sweet?
The term “dry”, when talking about wine, refers to the taste it leaves in your mouth because of the amount of sugars remaining in the wine after fermentation.
During the winemaking process, the sugars in the grapes are converted into alcohol using a fermentation process. The longer the sugars ferment for the less residual sugar that will be left in the wine in the end, thus making the wine more dry.
In short dry equals little to no residual sugar in the wine.
Sweet wines are just the opposite.
A sweet wine is a wine that retains some of the residual sugar from the grapes during fermentation. The more sugar that is left over in the wine, the sweeter the wine will be.
One common misconception with dry wines is that they tend to dry out your mouth, or make your mouth feel strange when you drink.
This actually has nothing to do with the being “dry” itself, and more to do with the level of tannins in the wine.
Red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, tend to have a higher level of tannins, which is what gives your mouth that strange feeling when drinking (which is why we recommend a good food pairing with your cab).
So while the tannins in a wine may make your mouth feel “dry”, that’s not what makes a wine dry. High level of tannins and low levels of residual sugar (dry wines) do not necessarily go hand in hand, even though it seems like high tannin red wines also have a dry taste to them.
What is an Example of a Dry Wine?
You can find both sweet and dry wines of both red and wine varieties. So whatever your preference is, you should be able to find a wine that tastes good to you. It may just take some taste tests to figure out what you enjoy since everyone has different palates.
For red wine lovers your Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec are going to be more on the dry side. These wines have little to no residual sugar in them. So if you don’t like sweet wines, these are the reds we would recommend.
If you’re looking for sweeter red wines, a Port is going to be your best option.
When it comes to white wines, your best dry options are going to be Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, but not as sweet as a dessert wine, a glass of Riesling will do the trick.
If you really want to get crazy with it, Moscato and White Ports are very high on the sweetness scale.
Sweet wines tend to get a bad rep from so-called wine enthusiasts, but the truth is, there’s no wrong opinion. Everyone has different taste buds, so what tastes good to someone else may not taste the same for you.
The secret is to just try a bunch of different wines until you find something you like. If you know you’re a fan of sweeter wines, then start there. If sweetness isn’t your thing, then dry wines are the way to go. If you’re looking to broaden your wine drinking horizons, then try something you’ve never had before.
The only way to know if you like a certain type of wine is to try it. Basing your opinions on someone else’s tastes is just going to limit you on what you’re willing to try.