What is a dry white wine?
Whether you’re cooking with a sauvignon blanc or enjoying a glass of chardonnay, there’s a dry white wine for every occasion
When it comes to white wines, they can be either dry or sweet.
Simply put, a dry white wine is one without any residual sweetness. Even so, everyone’s palate is different, which means everyone has a different perception of what’s sweet or dry.
Because of this, finding the right dry white wine can be a challenge, especially if you intend on buying a bottle for entertaining or to accompany a meal. To keep things simple, we’re sharing a few helpful tips on choosing dry white wine.
Degrees of wine dryness
To understand differences in wine dryness, it’s helpful to look at them on a spectrum of sweetness.
White wine with less than 10 grams of sugar per liter is considered dry. Those with 30 grams per liter are considered sweet, such as Chenin blanc or riesling. They’re often referred to as dessert wines.
Classic dry white wines
There are some white wines that are almost always dry, such as pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, and Spanish albariño. They may have flavor and scent notes like herbs, wood, grass, and minerality. They’re characterized as crisp and refreshing.
Crispness is a term you hear when discussing dry white wines. It refers to acidity, and it’s what gives wine its sour or tart taste.
Champagne is a term used loosely, though it actually refers to sparkling white wine made in the Champagne region of northern France. Technically, a sparkling wine isn’t champagne unless it’s made there.
Champagnes can be sweet or dry, and they’re very much an acquired taste. While most often used in toasts, some dry Champagnes make excellent pairings with certain dishes.
Food pairing with dry white wine
Dry white wine is a favorite ingredient for cooking or for accompanying meals because it adds an uplifting touch of acidity to dishes.
Chardonnay, for example, pairs well with fatty fishes or seafood dishes in rich sauces, whereas pinot grigio goes well with lighter fish dishes.
Dry champagne, surprisingly, is considered a versatile white wine. It can be paired with lobster or roast chicken dishes, as well as full-flavored meat dishes.
Sauvignon blanc is a favorite dry white wine for tangy foods and salads. It can also be paired with fried chicken, crab cakes, and vegetable-based dishes featuring complex flavor profiles.
Off-dry riesling is preferred with sweet and spicy dishes, including those in Asian and Indian cuisines. It can also be enjoyed with some salads that have vinegar- or lemon-based dressings.
How to serve dry white wine
Dry white wine should be served at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the wine is more enjoyable to drink because all of its flavors and aromatics come through. It also creates the opportunity for the acidity to shine through and give the dry white wine its signature crisp finish.
If you purchase a dry white wine that’s room temperature, you’ll need to chill it before serving. Keep in mind it takes up to two hours in the refrigerator or around 20 minutes in the freezer to reach optimal temperature.
Choosing glasses for dry white wine
There are two main types of white wine glasses. These include glasses for high-acid wines and glasses for full-bodied wines.
Glasses for high-acid wines are used for dry rieslings and sauvignon blancs. These glasses feature narrower rims and smaller bowls, which help the wine travel to the middle of the palate. This allows the taster to appreciate the wine’s acidity.
Glasses for full-bodied wines, on the other hand, have slightly wider rims with larger, bulbous bowls. The unique shape of these glasses leaves room for the wine to oxidize, or breathe. As a result, it accentuates the richest qualities of full-bodied white wines, such as chardonnays.
As you may already know, champagne is poured into champagne glasses, and there’s more than one kind. Flutes, for example, work for very dry — or brut — champagnes. Other champagnes are served from tulip or wide tulip glasses, though sweeter champagnes are served in coupe glasses.
How to store dry white wine
It’s best to store dry white wine between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you don’t have a wine fridge, it’s best to keep it in cool, dark places like a garage or closet. The main goal is to keep the dry white wine in a cool, dry area away from direct ultraviolet (UV) and fluorescent light.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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