What does it Mean When a Wine is “Dry?”

It’s common practice for wine makers to refer to their product as “dry.” What are they actually saying? If you’ve asked yourself this question before, you’re about to have your curiosity sated as the Ideal Wine Company asks; what does it mean when a wine is dry?

The labels we use to describe wine

We use a multitude of labels to describe the taste of wine. One of these labels is “dry,” the opposite of which is “sweet” and “semi-sweet.” What does these labels mean? What do they say about the way a wine tastes?

The meaning of the latter two labels would suggest that the answer lies in how sweet the vintage tastes. This is somewhat correct and this is because these labels are used to refer to how much sugar there is in a bottle of wine. The amount of sugar in wine is determined by the fermentation process.

The role of sugar in the fermentation process

We use grape juice to make wine and grapes contain natural sugar. A wine maker will add yeast to grape juice before they allow it to ferment. Yeast converts this sugar into alcohol during fermentation and this creates wine out of grape juice.

However sometimes the yeast doesn’t convert all of the sugar into wine. It leaves some behind. When yeast has converted all of the sugar into wine it’s dry. However when it has left some residual sugar behind its sweet. Consequently, when the yeast has left behind a small amount of sugar the vintage may sometimes be referred to as semi-sweet.

This allows producers to control the wine making process depending on whether they want to make a dry or a sweet wine. If they want to make a dry product, they’ll allow the fermentation process to go on until it’s finished, however if they want to produce a sweet product, they’ll cut it short.

What is a dry wine?

Therefore when we describe a wine as dry we’re simply referring to its lack of sugar content. This means that you can use the term dry to determine how sweet a wine will taste. If you want a savoury wine, go for one that’s described as dry.

You’ll be interested to find out that despite popular opinion, dry doesn’t just refer to white wines. The majority of reds are dry as well. Find out for yourself what a dry red tastes like by buying the “” from the Ideal Wine Company today!


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