Which Wines Are Dry?

When you imagine sipping a glass of wine with dinner, often it's the syrupy sweet, deep red drink that comes to mind. However, alcohol-aficionados know that there are a variety of wines to choose from depending on your personal tastes -- and they aren't always sweet. In fact, many of the most rich, complex and enjoyable wines are dry. 

The first thing to understand is – what makes a wine dry? To over simplify, a dry wine has little to no residual sugar left after the wine-making process. In other words, it isn’t sweet. More technically, a dry wine is crafted when the yeast that eats the sugar is left to eat all the sugar. A sweet wine is the result of the wine maker stopping the yeast from eating all the sugars. The more sugar eaten by the yeast, the drier the wine; the less sugar eaten, the sweeter the wine.



Dry – little to no sweetness

Off-Dry – mild sweetness

Sweet – full sweetness


Most wines are dry or off-dry wines.  So, if someone asks you to pick up a good, dry wine for a gathering or date night, you actually have a plentiful selection to choose from.



Dry White Wines

Sauvignon Blanc



Pinot Blanc




Dry Red Wines

Pinot Grigio


Pinot Noir

Cabernet Sauvignon


Red Zinfandel


Of course, within the list of dry wines, there’s levels of dryness. For example, in the reds, cabernet sauvignon is drier than merlot and, in the whites, sauvignon blanc is drier than chardonnay. However, all are considered dry. And, to complicate it further, depending on where the Riesling is made, it can be either very dry or very sweet.

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