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What does “Dry” wine Mean?

Wine presents itself as a bit of a mystery. I often feel that it is this mystery that makes people hesitant to talk about it. One topic is dry wine. What does this mean? How can a wine be dry when it is made of liquid?  Well to put it simply, dry is the opposite of sweet.  It is the amount of residual sugar that is left in the bottle that can or can’t be perceived by the taster.

[caption id="attachment_80" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Sugar scale wine Is it dry or sweet?[/caption]

Sweetness is detected on the tip of our tongues. Most wines are in the dry category.  Their sugar level is at  4g/L or less . This would be less than one packet of raw sugar in a 1L bottle of water.  Very hard to detect on the tip of your tongue. As the chart above indicates most people will start to perceive sugar once it reaches the 10g/L mark in a wine. This would encompass the very popular Moscato style of wines today.  As you can see the levels can get very saturated with sugar and very sweet like port wine and Sauternes from France.  The difference is highly noticeable and usually procures wines of heavier more luscious mouthfeel.

The biggest question I get is why does my NAPA cab taste sweet then, Justin? Well, because of the intense sunlight and uniqueness of California the intensity of the FRUIT FLAVORS shine through. And when you taste fruit it is typically associated with sweet. So this is where the difference of a sweet wine with actual residual sugar should be compared to a FRUIT FORWARD wine that is a dry wine expressing fruity characteristics.

Feel free to discuss this topic or ask me any questions at The Bottle Room.

On a side note. I highly recommend serving your wines at suggested temperatures. Most reds at approx. 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sweet wines in the lower 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  The serving temperature helps balance some of the properties of wine for better enjoyment. I will explain in an upcoming blog post.

Cheers!

Justin

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