What you mean when you order a “dry” wine

By Alexander Miller
Manager, Boca Bistro

Something that I hear a lot in the restaurant, and indeed outside the restaurant, is people asking for “dry wine”.  This is a fashionable question to ask, seemingly, but what does it really mean?  If you ask for a “dry” red wine, what are you really asking for?  Realistically, with the exception of mass market “jug wine” like a Gallo “Rich Burgundy” all red wine, and most marketed white, is effectively “dry”.

What this is referring to in the world of wine is the perception of sweetness measured in sugar remaining in the finished wine; 10g per liter is what is legally allowed in a “dry” wine.  I think that what many people are referring to when they ask this question are two things: the inherent fruitiness of the wines, which incidentally is not at all tied to dryness, and the presence of tannin in the wine.

Tannins are natural chemical compounds that are astringent, that is to say, they leave your mouth feeling dry.  The classic example of this is over-steeped black tea; brew a cup and see what I mean.  One can find fruity wine that is tannic and fruity wine that is not.

Typically if you like that sort of thing, look to European wines; at Boca Bistro, try the Dinastia Vivanco Crianza.  If you want something that won’t leave your mouth feeling dry I suggest something softer from the New World like the Concha Y Toro Carmenere.

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