Wine Word Wednesday: Dry

Golden Dry Gem from  Municipal Winemakers

Golden Dry Gem from Municipal Winemakers

For my first Wine Word Wednesday, I thought we would start with something that everyone says, but not everyone understands. Dry! 

What does "dry" mean when talking about wine? The basic definition is "lacking in sweetness," but what does that actually mean? Even more so then lacking, it should stand for the OPPOSITE of sweet, or any residual sugars.  

To understand this a little better, it's important to know that during the fermentation process, the sugar in the fruit of grapes is converted to alcohol with the use of yeast (most commonly).  The winemaker can stop this process early or sometimes a bit of the sugar is left over when the process is over. This leftover sugar is called residual sugar.  While there is no regulation over what level of residual sugar makes a wine dry, the rule of thumb is usually 0-1.3%. 

Just don't confuse the absence of sweetness or dryness with the absence of fruit! You will still taste the fruit in a dry wine, it just won't be sweet. For me, sweet wines can tend to have syrupy quality, like a deep fruit juice.