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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What’s the difference between a semi-sweet and a semi-dry wine?

—Dee, Suamico, Wisc.

Dear Dee,

Let me start off by explaining that “dry” and “sweet” are different ends of the same spectrum. When most or all of the grape sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation, a wine is considered “dry.” A “sweet” wine still has a lot of that residual sugar leftover. All the wines in between can be considered “semi-sweet” or “semi-dry.” These aren’t technical terms but, in general, the term “semi-sweet” is used for wines closer to “sweet” while “semi-dry” will refer to wines closer to “dry.”

There can be a lot of confusion about these terms—after all, “dry” is a sensation, and sometimes it can be used to describe the sensation of tannins.

—Dr. Vinny

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