With hundreds of different varieties and flavors, wine has a little something to offer everyone! From crisp to full-bodied wines, and regions to grape varietals, there's a lot to learn. But today, let's dive into the world of dry white wines and how to differentiate them from their peers.
How Are Dry White Wines Made?
A dry wine has little to no residual sugar. We aren’t scientists, but in short, grape juice and yeast undergo a fermentation process after being crushed and pressed from grapes. To create dry wines, the winemaker allows the fermentation process to leave a dry wine with a small amount of residual sugar, usually four grams of sugar per liter of wine.
In addition to having less residual sugar, dry wines also differentiate from sweet wine due to added sugar. After fermentation, some winemakers add sugar to formulate their desired flavor profile. While it might be added to sweeten wine, sugar can also increase the wine's alcohol content. The latter is known as 'capitalization,' which is more prevalent in colder wine regions where grapes ripen more slowly.
Do I Drink Dry White Wines, or Do I Cook with Them?
You can do both! The main distinction between cooking wine and drinking wine is the alcohol content. Cooking wine is reasonably high because most of its alcohol burns off while cooking.
Additionally, cooking wine adds salt and a few other preservatives that are not found in your average drinking wine. While cooking wines can be either white or red, you will find that they are more commonly red wine.
What Should I Look for in a Dry White Wine?
Dry wines include a little less than 1% sugar per liter. Particular sub-categories within dry wines include medium-dry or slightly sweet wines.
Dry white wine is an easy way to add a zesty flavor to the blandest of dishes. Its high acidity and citrus fruit flavors, such as nectarines, make it perfect to sip on all year round!
Because dry wines go through the entire fermentation process, they often have high alcohol content. However, it is essential to note that just because a wine is high in alcohol does not mean it is dry. Instead, some sweet dessert wines are high in alcohol and incredibly sweet due to adding sugar or other ingredients, such as brandy.
What Are the Most Popular Dry White Wines?
Dry white wines range from a pepper-tinged Grüner Veltliner to Chablis from France with its hints of tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. While all dry white wines deserve to be popular, the top dry white wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, and Semillon.
The best wine for both sipping and cooking, Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and very dry. Known for its herbaceous flavor, this Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced with acidity.
While grown worldwide, Sauvignon Blanc's major growing regions include Bordeaux, Chile, New Zealand, the Loire Valley, Germany, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Austria, and California.
Also known as Grauburgunder, Pinot Grigio is recognized for its fruit flavors like lime, pear, honeysuckle, and green apple. Sometimes Pinot Grigio can have a faint honey note due to the Pinot Grigio Grape used. Pinot Grigio is often less sweet than Chardonnay and Pinot Noir due to its high acidity. Pinot Gris Grapes are found in the vineyards of Burgundy but are found in all regions of the new world!
A genetic mutation of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc is a white wine grape that has experienced a point mutation in which a vine bears all black fruit except for one staff which produces white fruit.
Like Chardonnay, Semillon is bold and dry and packed with intense flavors. You can expect fruit flavors like lemon, pear, green papaya, and apple in this wine.
What Food Pairs with Dry White Wine?
The acids in white wine heighten the taste of fish and chicken. White wine has a similar impact that lemon has on chicken and fish; its acidity makes the meat taste fresher. But here are a few of our favorite combinations that we know you're going to love.
Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Manchego are all examples of hard cheeses, and they all happen to pair deliciously with Chardonnay.
We might be stating the obvious, but goat cheese is cheese created with goat milk rather than cow's milk. Goat cheese is known for being a soft and more spreadable cheese wonderful for salad, but it also has varieties ranging from mild to complex, tangy and sweet, and everywhere in between.
Goat cheese's many layers of flavor can make pairing it with wine a challenge. However, you can find a wine that pairs harmoniously, and that will show off both the flavors of the cheese as well as the wine.
A regional pairing that won't let you down is Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese. The zippy acidity in Sauvignon balances goat cheese's acidity creating a fresh and refreshing taste. Goat cheese is also an excuse to break out a can of Bev! A crisp, dry white or rose from Bev brings out the delicious flavors in goat cheese.
Dry wines are made to be paired with fish and seafood. With citrus notes and a light, crisp finish, Pinot Grigio pairs beautifully with fish like cod and tilapia. Its earthiness intensifies fish flavors and, therefore, plays well on the palate. Once you combine your fish tacos with the dryness and smoothness of Pinot Grigio, you will have a hard time finding a more enjoyable tasting experience.
Chardonnay and seafood should also be one of your go-to pairs, but they do come with some caveats. Chardonnay should be served alongside a mild, buttery, or creamy seafood dish, like dishes with silky textures, including risottos and cream-enhanced soups, sauces, and pasta. Another good pairing is meaty fish, like halibut or cod, and shellfish, such as lobster, shrimp, crab, and scallops. A less than perfect pairing is Chardonnay with aggressively seasoned or super spicy seafood dishes.
Ripe Chardonnays aged in oak barrels will have spices and notes of vanilla that create a fruity flavor perfect for more decadent foods like pasta with a creamy sauce or mushroom risotto.
With spicy food, you probably want to stick with acidic wines. While too much alcohol and spices like chili can set your palate on fire, some wines are up to the challenge. Off-dry white wines, like Riesling, are often praised for being a good match for spicy foods due to their mild sweetness, which aids in reducing the heat sensation.
Whatever wine you choose and whatever food you choose to eat alongside it is your decision, and ultimately, a matter of each individual palate. Cheers to that!