Dry White Wine: You Should Definitely Know About It

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Do you want a dry white wine for cooking? The most important thing is that the wine itself tastes good. An inferior wine can spoil a good dish.

Fortunately, there are white wines that taste good and are very affordable. Avoid anything that is called “culinary wine”, as it most likely deserves this label because it is not fit for consumption.

For most recipes, you need a much smaller bottle (usually a glass), so that you have enough for two or three glasses with your meal. If you want to know more about cooking with wine, read this article on the six most important types of wine for cooking.

What is dry white wine?

The answer is simpler than you think: a dry white wine is simply a wine that is not sweet, it is a white wine that does not contain residual sugar from the grapes from which the drop was made. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

In sweet wines, regardless of color, the winemaker ensures that fermentation is shorter so that the yeasts do not have time to “eat” all the sugar (or convert it into alcohol). In contrast, in the case of dry wine, fermentation is longer, which encourages the yeasts to consume more sugar. Therefore, dry wines contain less sugar than sweet wines.

Which white wines are considered dry?

The term “dry” is often misused to describe a wine, but some examples of dry white wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling. These wines have a fruity flavor but are not sweet and usually have a crisp character. In fact, they usually contain less than 10 grams of sugar per liter.

Of course, there are variations in which winemakers can make sweet versions of these traditionally “dry” wines, but in most cases, they are dry white wines.

How to vote?

Heat does not improve the undesirable qualities of bad wine, it only accentuates them. So make a wine that you enjoy drinking. Conversely, heat kills the subtle nuances of a complex wine, so save good wine exclusively for drinking.

How to prepare it?

Since wine also contains alcohol, it is usually added at the beginning of the cooking process so that the alcohol has time to burn off. Adding wine to a dish only at the end of the cooking process often results in an unpleasant raw wine taste.

How to save it?

Store unopened bottles in a cool, dark place. Once opened, the wine begins to oxidize, which has a negative effect on the taste. To slow down this process, close the opened bottles and place them in the refrigerator. Use the open bottle for a few days.

More about wine

If you want to know how to store wine for drinking (rather than cooking), read expert Tim Glaser’s tips on how to store wine, and check out our handy pairing checklist. For more expert advice on making and drinking wine, check out our beverage page.

Determination of the degree of dryness

Grapes contain different amounts of natural sugar depending on the grape variety, the time of harvest, and the concentration of the juice. During fermentation, the yeast converts the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol. When most of the sugar has been converted and the residual sugar is less than 1% of the wine volume (four grams of sugar per liter), the wine is considered dry. A wine can also be considered semi-dry if the residual sugar content is 12 g/liter. Wines with higher sugar content are called off-dry, medium, or sweet.

Sweetness and fruitiness are two terms that are often confused in wine terminology. A fruity wine is not necessarily sweet, and even the driest wine can have many fruity characteristics. Fruity does not necessarily describe the degree of sweetness of a wine, but rather its fruity characteristics. For example, a Riesling may taste of apple, while a Sauvignon Blanc may taste of currant.

What is the difference between a dry white wine and a sweet wine?

During malolactic fermentation, the sugar in the grapes is converted into alcohol. If the winemaker stops the process before the end of fermentation, residual sugar (RS) remains in the wine.

This residual sugar gives the wine its natural sweetness.

A wine with less than 10 grams of residual sugar is considered dry, while a wine with more than 30 grams is considered sweet or dessert.

What makes a white wine dry?

The word “dry” is used to narrate wines when we talk about wines but those are not sweet. However, dry is considered the opposite of sweet. The dryness of white wines, indeed of all wines, depends on the amount of sugar in the wine. White wine grapes have a natural sweetness at harvest when the grapes are ripe. At the end of the fermentation process, there is what is called residual sugar. The driest white wine contains very little residual sugar.

What is residual sugar?

As its name indicates, residual sugar is the natural sugar remaining after fermentation. The amount of residual sugar determines the degree of dryness or sweetness of a wine. A wine with little or no residual sugar is a dry white wine. All wines contain some residual sugar. Dry wines contain less than one gram per glass (150 ml/5 ounces). Sweet wines can contain up to 20 grams of sugar per glass. Our palate begins to perceive sweetness at 5 or 6 grams of sugar per glass. The driest white wine contains the least residual sugar.

12 types of dry white wine

Very dry whites

These wines contain less than 4 g/l of residual sugar. They are therefore dry and crisp, making them ideal for dry wine lovers.

Sauvignon Blanc

It is one of the driest and crispest wines and is ideal for drinking and cooking. This clean, low-fat wine is usually herbaceous or herbal, with balanced acidity and hidden fruit. The main producing regions are Bordeaux, New Zealand, the Loire Valley, South Africa, Austria, California and Washington State.

Albarinho

This Spanish dry wine, pronounced al-buh-reen-yo, has crisp acidity and a refreshing citrus flavor with slightly salty notes. It pairs well with seafood, which abounds in Spanish cuisine. The Portuguese call it Alvarinho.

Chardonnay

The French region of Burgundy is known for its excellent Chardonnay wines. The Chablis of France is a lively, low-fat wine made exclusively from these grapes. Wines from this region have aromas of apple, tropical fruit, citrus, and flint. New World versions of California and Washington wines are aged in new oak and tend to have a toasty flavor with vanilla aromas. The presence or absence of oak in a Chardonnay has a significant impact on the flavor profile. With oak, toasty vanilla flavors predominate.

Muscadet

This light wine is very dry. Melon de Bourgogne grapes help to make Muscadet. Muscadet should not be disorganized with Muscat or Moscato wines, those are usually dry or semi-sweet. Instead, Muscadet is a spicy, acidic, and delicious wine, with citrus and mineral notes. This wine comes from the Loire Valley.

Torrontes

Torrontes is an increasingly popular wine. You will find many lovely examples in South American countries, especially in Argentina. It is an aromatic white wine, which means it is especially fragrant. On the palate you will find notes of peach and citrus, as well as strong acidity and floral notes.

Medium dry white

These wines may contain up to 12 g/l of residual sugar. They are usually slightly sweeter than very dry wines, but not so much as to be classified as off-dry or dessert wines.

White Burgundy

We know that genetic mutation of Pinot Noir is found from Pinot Blanc. However, it is a white wine grape grown in regions such as Germany, Austria, Italy, and Alsace in France. Its flavor is similar to Chardonnay and produces medium-bodied wines with high acidity and notes of apple and almond.

Pinot Gris

In Italy, this wine is called Pinot Grigio.  Especially in Oregon and France, wines made from the same grape are called Pinot Gris in other countries. In Germany, it is called Grauburgunder. Pinot Grigio from Alsace (France) is a sweet wine and does not usually belong to the category of dry white wines. Dry Pinot Grigio/Gries wines are light, crisp, and fruity with mineral or citrus notes. Italian Pinot Grigio is usually a crisp and mineral version of this dry white wine, while French Pinot Gris is fruitier and drier.

Viognier

Viognier is an aromatic grape. In Côte-Rôtie wines in France, winemakers even blend a little Viognier with Syrah to give them a tantalizing aroma with citrus notes. It is an increasingly popular French grape variety worldwide for its strong peach and honeysuckle aroma and flavor.

Grüner Veltliner

Austria has specialized in the production of this peachy wine with notes of pepper and spices. When the grapes are harvested at a less ripe stage, citrus dominates, especially limes. However, the later the grapes are harvested, the less citrus notes are found in the wine, and the riper grapes produce wines with peach notes.

Gewürztraminer

Germany and Alsace are specialists in the production of this aromatic and spicy white wine. Good examples can also be found in New Zealand, Oregon and California. Not all guh-vurtz-tra-mee-nehr is dry. If you are looking for a dry wine, choose the German variety trocken or halbtrocken. Floral, spicy and citrus notes can be expected in this wine.

Riesling

Another grape variety that grows in the cooler climates of Germany and Alsace is Riesling, which can be made dry or sweet. The acidic wines have mineral, stone fruit and apple aromas. Examples of dry Rieslings can also be found in Washington, Oregon and California.

Champagne

Champagne (and sparkling wines outside France) is also a type of dry white wine. Although many Champagne wines are dry, each region has its own sweetness classification.

  • Extra Brut contains less than 0.6% residual sugar.
  • Brut contains less than 1.5% residual sugar.
  • Extra Sec contains between 1.2 and 2%. It is a semi-dry wine.
  • The residual sugar content of the cake is between 1.7 and 3.5%.
  • Demi-Sec contains between 3.3 and 5% residual sugar.
  • Dux contains 5% or more residual sugar.
Combination of feedstuffs containing dry proteins
  • Are you ready to try some great combinations with dry white wines? Although there are no strict rules, keep the following points in mind.
  • Fresh wines such as Sauvignon Blanc go well with light and bright dishes such as halibut with lemon.
  • Sauvignon Blanc is also an ideal wine to accompany salads, vegetables and anything with strong herbaceous notes, especially dill or basil.
  • Wines with oak and toasty flavors, such as Chardonnay, pair well with rich, fatty foods, such as lobster in butter sauce or fettuccine Alfredo.
  • Spicy or acidic white wines, such as Riesling, Torrontes, Viognier or Gewürztraminer, go well with spicy foods, such as Asian dishes.
  • Champagne and sparkling white wines go well with salty or umami foods.
  • A fruity white wine such as Pinot Gris goes well with delicate dishes such as seafood.
  • Albariño, with its subtle salty flavor, goes very well with raw fish such as sashas.

Cooking with dry white wine

Many recipes do not specify a specific type of wine, but recommend “dry white wine”. So, which wine should you use?

Use an intensely flavored wine, such as an aged Chardonnay, a dry Vermouth or a dry Sherry, with buttery or creamy sauces and stews, such as fettuccine Alfredo or mushroom risotto.

For lighter flavored dishes, such as beurre blanc or spring vegetable risotto, use a wine with a lighter note. Chablis is a good choice.

Dry, acidic white wines with citrus notes, such as Albariño, go well with seafood.

For dishes with herbal or vegetable flavors or very light dishes, choose a dry white wine with herbs, for example, a Sauvignon Blanc.

A true dry white

Do not be intimidated by the term “dry”. Although dry white wines are not very sweet, they are usually very approachable. They are especially good when chilled to the right temperature and served with dishes that complement their flavor and aroma. If you are new to wine, ask the staff at a restaurant or liquor store about the best dry white wines.

Why a dry white wine for cooking?

As a general rule, dry white wines (wines without sweetness) are preferred with light dishes such as chicken, pork, veal, soups, seafood, and vegetables. Here are some examples of dishes associated with common types of wine.

White meats, cream sauces, and meat juices

Taste dry and full-bodied white wines

  • Chardonnay
  • Viognier
  • White Cheyenne
  • Viura

For cream sauces, gravies and poultry, use thicker, more flavorful dry white wines, such as Chardonnay.

There are many white wines with rich, creamy flavors, but Chardonnay is probably the most common. Cooking wine in a creamy sauce or gravy requires a little more experience, as it is more difficult to balance the acidity or determine how much wine has been reduced. It is best to reduce the amount of wine before blending it into the cream.

Shellfish and crustaceans

Taste crisp, dry white wines

  • Pinot Gris (also called Pinot Grigio)
  • Vigno Green
  • Colombard
  • Verdicchio
  • Picpoul de Pinet

A little acidity can cut the fatness of the fish, but be careful not to overdo the acidity, as it is easy to overdo it when cooking.

If you are creative, there are many other wines that fit this flavor profile. For more ideas, see the list of white wines.

Vegetables
  • Try dry white wines with herbs
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Verdejo

Sauvignon Blanc is a classic light wine with fruity, herbaceous and floral aromas that add a surprising dimension to cooking vegetables. It is one of the easiest wines to prepare: just add the wine to a pan to deglaze.

Try these wines with artichokes, Mediterranean tomato dishes, chard, eggplant, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms. A little oil and lemon add extra flavor and a perfect balance of acidity.

Tips for cooking with white wine
  • For creamy sauces, boil the wine separately and reduce it to half the original amount. Once the wine has boiled, add the cream. Most recipes call for 1/2 to 3/4 cup of wine.
  • After frying the vegetables, pour a few tablespoons of wine into the pan to deglaze.
  • For steaming or poaching shellfish (mussels, clams, oysters), the broth is supplemented with wine.
  • You can add a few tablespoons of wine to the marinades to tenderize the meat and caramelize it during cooking.
  • The longer the wine is cooked, the less alcohol will remain in the dish. Alcohol can take up to 2.5 hours to decompose completely.
  • The opened and cooled white wine can be drunk for one week and used for cooking for fourteen days.

Frequently asked questions about dry white wine

Is Chardonnay a dry white wine?

The short answer is: Yes, Chardonnay is generally a dry wine. As a general rule, Chardonnay is a dry or medium-bodied white wine, with moderate acidity and alcohol. Chardonnay wine can be macerated or not, and its aromas range from apple and lemon to tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. It can also have notes and aromas of cream and vanilla when aged in oak barrels.

Is Sauvignon a dry white wine?

Sauvignon Blanc is generally produced as a dry, still white wine. Some producers in Marlborough (New Zealand) make it sparkling or add a little sugar to make it richer.

Is Chenin Blanc dry or sweet?

Chenin Blanc can be dry or sweet. As a general rule, they are dry and acidic. Due to the high acidity of the Chenin Blanc grape, it can be used to make a wide variety of wines, from very dry to very sweet.

Is Riesling a dry white wine?

Riesling can be produced as a dry or sweet white wine. It has intense floral aromas, high acidity, and a dry taste.

What are the ways that my Riesling is dry?

Look for a Riesling with higher alcohol content. If you are looking for a drier Riesling, choose a wine with a moderate alcohol content (11% ABV or higher). The lower the alcohol content, the sweeter the wine will be, as not all of the sugar has been converted to alcohol and there is still some residual sugar.

Viognier: Dry or sweet?

The wines made with Viognier are mainly dry, although sweet dessert wines are also made with this late harvest grape. It is a low acid grape.

How many calories does a dry white wine contain?

A glass of dry white wine contains about 100 calories. You will get 10% alcohol contains about 100 calories ((85 from alcohol and 15 from carbohydrates) on a glass of light dry white wine.

What are dry white wines?

The term “dry” is often misused to describe a wine, but some examples of dry white wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling. These wines have a fruity flavor but are not sweet and usually have a crisp character.

How can I tell if white wine is dry?

In the simplest case, dry wine is one that contains no residual sugar or sweetness.

Which is sweeter, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio?

Sauvignon Blanc is slightly drier on the sugar scale than Pinot Grigio. Dry wines include both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

What is the most popular white wine?

Chardonnay is one of the most popular white grape varieties in the world, and wines made from it appear on almost every wine list in the world.

Italian dry white wine

Italian Pinot Grigio is usually a lively and mineral version of this dry white wine, while French Pinot Gris is fruitier and drier.

What is the serving temperature of white wine?

Light white wines should be served cool, between 7 and 10 ̊ C (44-50 ̊ F).

Conclusion

There are many dry white wines with low sugar content. If you don’t like sweet wine, you should choose drier white wines. They are perfect for summer, especially if you are watching your waistline. Dry white wines are found all over the world. There is a wide range of dry white wines from different regions such as Italy, France, Canada, and many others.

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