Dry Red Wine Types – The Basics

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What do you need to know about dry red wine types? Basically, the first thing that you should know is that there are so many types of dry red wine out there. In fact, the majority of red wines are of the drier variety.

In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of red wines out there and many of them are dry. But before you can choose a dry red wine that you like, you should probably get the basics down of what “dry” actually means.



Dry vs. Sweet Wine

When it comes to wine, when you hear the word “dry” it isn’t because the wine isn’t wet! The dryness or sweetness of a wine is purely determined by the levels of sugars found in the wine, not its state of liquidity. The process of fermentation directly affects how dry or sweet a wine will actually become.

The Fermentation Process

The fermentation process is what makes grape juice the wine you love. But do you know anything about this fabulous little process? In the most basic sense, fermentation is the process of yeast consuming sugar and releasing heat, carbon dioxide, and alcohol.

In the wine fermentation process, grapes are picked then crushed. When the grapes are picked early, there are very low sugar levels. This means there won’t be a lot of food for the yeast. This means that there will be less alcohol. If the grapes are picked with high sugar levels, there is plenty of fuel for the yeast and therefore will result in high alcohol content.

What Does “Dry” Mean?

Now, knowing about the fermentation process and that the “dryness” of a wine refers to sugar levels, you may have a better understanding of what “dry” actually means. Dry red wines are, in the most basic terms, red wines that have very low levels of sugar. These wines usually have less than a gram of sugar per liter of wine. (This ends up translating into a residual sugar level of less than 1.4%.)

As red wine ferments, remember that the yeast is consuming the available sugar until there is very little or none left at all. Depending on the type of yeast in the fermentation process, the yeast will consume the sugar up until there is a certain alcohol level. Dry red wine is a result of yeast that has eaten so much of the sugar that such low amounts are left that hardly anyone will taste them.

Types of Dry Red Wine

Many people associate red wine with dryness, and rightly so. Many red wines are quite dry, however not all of them are! The most common dry red wine types include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

However, dry red wine is not limited to just those varieties. Many people enjoy dry red wines such as Sangiovese, Malbec, Tempranillo, and Petit Verdot. A little research and conversation with the people at your favorite local wine shop will help open your eyes to the other dry red wines of the world.

Dry Red Wine Types - Choosing a Wine

If you must choose a dry red wine for a particular event or dinner, there are some factors to consider. You will want to think about the type of food that will be served at the event, so that you choose a dry red wine that pairs nicely with it. You’ll also need to consider the characteristics you enjoy most in a wine while at the same time considering your guests’ preferences.

While at the store, it won’t be too difficult to select a dry red wine. As long as you are aware that most red table wines are considerably dry, you are golden. Wines harvested a little later in the grape’s life, such as ports and sherries, will almost always be sweeter.



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