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

Do Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Burgundy improve with age?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny consults Burgundy expert Bruce Sanderson on how long to …

Apr 6, 2020

If red meat goes with red wine, what about plant-based “meat”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny asks food-and-wine pairing master Harvey Steiman for tips …

Apr 3, 2020

Is it OK to store potatoes and other vegetables in my wine cellar?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny consults Idaho's Dr. Potato on storing potatoes in a wine …

Apr 1, 2020

Which grapes are used in the sparkling wine Blanquette de Limoux?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny, with an assist from associate editor Gillian Sciaretta, …

Mar 30, 2020

Should I sip wine with food in my mouth to appreciate a wine-and-food pairing?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that enjoying wine and food together is all …

Mar 27, 2020

In wine and grapevines, what’s the difference between a “clone” and a “selection”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny calls in vine expert Carole Meredith to explain how a …

Mar 25, 2020