What white wines are considered "dry"?

Ask Dr Vinny

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,

When a recipe calls for a "dry white wine," what wines do they mean? I know a dessert wine is not considered dry. What whites are "dry"?

—Jack H., Indianapolis

Dear Jack,

Whether a wine is considered "dry" or not depends on the amount of residual sugar it has. Technically, wines with less than 10 grams per liter are considered "dry," those with more than 30 grams per liter are "sweet" or dessert wines, and anything in between is considered "off-dry." In practice, different people have different thresholds for tasting sweetness in wine, so what you consider dry another person might taste as sweet.

In general, some whites wines are almost always made in a dry style: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Spanish Albariños and Austrian Grüner Veltliners, for example. Some wines often fall between dry and off-dry: many New World Chardonnays, Rieslings, Viogniers and Pinot Gris, for example. And some whites are always sweet: Sauternes and "late-harvest" bottlings of grapes such as Riesling and Chenin Blanc are examples.

Regardless, always taste a wine before you cook with it. If it's not fun to drink, it won't improve your dish.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

I see reviews for highly scored wines that are not ready to drink. How can a wine that's not ready score so highly?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the philosophy behind our drinking window …

Dec 4, 2019

I have a hard time describing the types of wines I enjoy. Any tips?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers strategies for communicating what types of wines …

Dec 2, 2019

Is low-sulfite, minimal-intervention winemaking the future of wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks about why sulfites are important to winemaking.

Nov 29, 2019

What does it mean when a wine is described as “rustic”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how tannins can range from rustic to elegant.

Nov 27, 2019

What does it mean to “lay down” a bottle of wine, and what does it do for the wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how wine evolves as it ages.

Nov 25, 2019

I'm tired of berry and spice wines. Where can I get some wine made from grapes?!

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that all those berry, spice and vanilla flavors …

Nov 22, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search