Dry is often a word that is used when describing wine. But the word itself can be confusing. Some use it to describe the feeling in their mouth. However, this is not what a dry wine is. A dry wine is one that has no residual sugar. There are dry red wines like some cabernet sauvignon or merlot grape varieties, dry white wines like Riesling or pinot gris (AKA pinot grigio), and dry sparkling wines like a brut champagne. So let's talk about the wines that are dry and learn more about them so you can give these delicious wines a try!
What Makes a Wine Dry?
So, what the heck is a dry wine anyhow? A dry wine is one that has no residual sugar. Not to get into the science, but when grape juice transforms to wine in winemaking, alcohol is produced during fermentation because yeast eats the juice's sugar. In most wines, the winemaker stops the fermentation before yeast consumes all of the sugar, leaving small amounts of residual sugar. For a dry wine, the yeast eats all the sugar, and therefore, there is no sugar.
There is also another significant difference between dry and sweet wines, and that is added sugar. Some winemakers add sugar after the fermentation process. However, wines with sugar added after they're fermented are typically delightful. When making wine, winemakers use many different techniques to create their desired flavor profile. Some add sugar to sweeten the wine, and others use added sugar to increase the wine's alcohol content. The latter is called 'chapitalization,' and it is more common in colder wine regions where grapes ripen more slowly.
Friendly advice: don't confuse the absence of sweetness or dryness with the lack of fruit. Wines like a dry riesling, Chablis or pinot blanc still taste fruity but will not be as sweet as fruit juice.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the crispest, driest wines out there. It is the ultimate wine for both sipping and cooking. It is best known for its herbaceous flavor profile and is well-balanced with acidity. While Sauvignon Blanc is grown worldwide, the major growing regions include Bordeaux, New Zealand, the Loire Valley, South Africa, Austria, California, and Washington State.
While most Sauvignon Blanc wines are made completely dry, a select group of producers in New Zealand and California are known to leave a gram or two of residual sugar. Doing so allows Sauvignon Blanc to have a noticeably creamier texture.
This dry white wine is grown almost exclusively in Austria. The name, Grüner Veltliner, translates to "Green Wine of Veltlin." For a quick history lesson, in the 1600s, Veltlin was an area in the lower alps that is now part of Valtellina, Italy.
Unlike Sauvignon Blanc, Italian Grüner Veltliner is produced almost exclusively in a dry style. Grüner Veltliner is packed with green pepper and lime flavors. It has a hint of sweetness, which many inexperienced drinkers cannot taste because it also is extremely acidic. In many ways, Grüner Veltliner is an exotic alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.
Chardonnay is an incredibly versatile wine often drunk in warmer weathers and perfect with light, delicate food pairings, such as grilled fish and shellfish. It can be oaky or unoaked, and it's typically mildly acidic. It is a wine grape that originated in Burgundy, France, and is known to grow best alongside fellow Burgundy wine, Pinot Noir.
A full-bodied, dry white wine, Chardonnay's primary fruit flavors consist of apple, yellow melon, and star fruit. It is one of the few white wines that can be oaked, and because of that, you might also taste a hint of cream, vanilla, or butter. When deciding on a Chardonnay, you will notice that two different styles identify its oak versus unoaked production method.
Because of Chardonnay's rich flavor, especially when compared to other white wines, many incorrectly believe that Chardonnay is a sweet wine instead of a dry wine. However, this likely has more to do with the fact that many cheap brands add sugar to Chardonnay, therefore, taking away from Chardonnay's dryness.
Albariño wine is a refreshing coastal white wine that grows on the Iberian Peninsula. Some of the world's oldest living vines are Albariño vines! The vines are up to 300 years old, and the oldest known grapevine, for comparison, is over 400 years old. Because Albariño grapes are tiny and have very thick skins, the wine is difficult to produce. However, it results in an incredibly distinct raw-almond bitterness due to the skin's phenol content when it is created. Many love this wine for this quality as well as for its rich stone fruit flavors, a hint of salinity, and zippy acidity.
Albariño is a dry white wine filled with aromas of citrus and peach. The wine exhibits grapefruit, lemon peel, and apricot characteristics. The wine's salinity is due to the grapes grown in the coastal regions. OVerall, Albarino is light-bodied, low in tannins, and high in acid. The acidity allows this wine to be incredibly mouth-water and, therefore, should be sufficiently chilled before enjoying!
Another bone-dry wine, Muscadet, is a light-bodied white wine best known for being produced in France's Loire Valley. Muscadet is super easy and delicious to pair with foods because of its minerally, citrusy, and high acid taste.
The perfect wine for those who do not like fruity wines, Muscadet is lean and has a saline quality to its taste. This is likely because Muscadet vineyards are close to the sea and get salty sea breezes. Muscadet wines are known to be aged on the "lees." This is a process of aging wines on suspended lees, dead yeast particles. Because of this process, Muscadet has a creamy texture and a yeasty, almost lager-like taste. The longer the wine is on lees, the creamier the texture. If producers choose this route for production, they will often age the wine for two to three years. Muscadet has a touch of fruit that is subtly citrusy with unripe apple and pear notes in addition to the lager-like taste.
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