white wine grapes

What Is Dry White Wine?

There are a number of different types of white wine on the market but perhaps the most popular is dry white wine and sweet white wine. There’s an old saying that most people order dry white wine, but in truth, they actually prefer sweet wine. Whether this is true or not, it’s probably a fair bet to say that anyone who hasn’t tasted wine before might be better starting with a sweeter wine rather than one that’s very dry. The bitterness of dry wine can be an acquired taste for a new wine drinker, whereas most of us are already used to sweeter tastes in our food and drink. But before we go any further, it’s worth asking whether most of us actually even know what a dry white wine is - what it tastes like, and where it comes from.

Dry White Wine

Basically, dry wine is a wine that has no leftover sugars. And that means the fermenting was allowed to continue until all, or nearly all, the sugar was used up by the yeast. In practice, warmer climates also tend to be the ones that produce the sweeter wines. So if you have in front of you a bottle of wine that comes from a cool climate, it could well be on the drier side. And, crisp? Well, a crisp dry wine generally tastes more acidic. Slightly tart, and refreshing to the palate, rather than fruity.

At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly which white wines are dry. How can you know which one to try first? The answer is, it’s often a matter of tasting and finding out when the bottle’s open. You can’t always tell from looking at the outside label. But let’s run through a few general points to get you started.

Types Of Dry White Wine

In the case of Chardonnay, not every Chardonnay is dry. When you have a dry Chardonnay, you’ll find the oaked varieties tend to be fuller-bodied in taste, whereas the unoaked types are generally easier to drink. Even people who don’t think they like chardonnay might be surprised if they try a different one. It’s a very versatile variety. Full of surprises.

Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white wine. Interestingly, just about everything that goes into this variety is green - the fruit, the herbs, the grass, and maybe even a pepper. It makes it sound like a healthy option. If you're going to use dry white wine for cooking (when the recipe calls), you should probably go for a Sauvignon Blanc to be on the safe side. You can’t go far wrong there. Just don’t go for something so cheap it’s undrinkable, even if you are only cooking with wine.

Muscadet is another popular variety. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris are too, and of course Champagne. But be warned. The label won’t usually spell out whether a wine is sweet or dry. You probably know though, that a dessert wine will always be sweet. Any anything with ‘doux’ on the label will similarly be sweet. And, if you wondered, contrary to popular rumour, not all Riesling is sweet. Much of it is dry.

So, whatever else, dry is a white wine worth drinking…