Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is there a difference between a “semi-dry” wine and an “off-dry” wine?
—Caitlyn, Cape Town, S.A.
Nope! “Semi-dry” and “off-dry” are two terms for the same thing. Dryness in wine has a technical definition: Wines with less than 10 grams of residual sugar per liter are considered “dry,” those with more than 30 grams per liter are “sweet,” and anything that falls between is considered “off-dry” or “semi-dry.”
Talking about sweetness in wine can be a complicated thing. Even though you might think that all wines that are technically dry taste dry, or all wines with more than 10 games of residual sugar per liter have at least a perceptible sweetness, that’s not always the case. A wine can be technically dry, but the flavors come across as ripe and even a little bit sweet. A semi-dry wine can still have plenty of acidity that makes the flavors seem fresher than candied.
To further muddle the situation, perception and tolerance for sweetness can vary from person to person. What might seem cloying to you might seem perfectly fine to my sweet tooth.