What is a good dry red wine?

What is a dry red wine you might ask?  Well a dry red wine is one that has a low residual sugar content.  So that means that most, if not all, of the red grape sugars were converted to alcohol after the fermentation of the wine.  The resulting dry red wine is not sweet at all.

During fermentation the alcohol is being produced from the process of yeast eating the sugar in the juice.  When you stop this process before the yeast finishes eating all the sugars, some of the sugars are left and the wine will be a bit sweet.  Some wine makers prefer to do this for that reason.  If you allow the fermentation to continue and finish up the rest of the sugars, that is when you would be able to produce a dry red wine (or a dry white wine).

Some people might relate a dry wine to that drying sensation in their mouths, but this is caused by the level of tannins that you encounter in the wine and has nothing to do with the sweetness.  Remember, being tannic (high levels of tannins) and being dry (low or no sugar content) are two different things.  For example, a port wine can be sweet and also have a lot of tannins.

Some popular types of dry red wines to try include:

  • Merlot
    • Some call this a beginner dry red wine.  This is a good place to start to see how much you enjoy this.  It’s taste is quite a bit more softer.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Be sure to pair it with some red meats (or of course drink it by itself!).  A lot of Cab Sauvs have an oaky or spicy flavour.
  • Pinot Noir
    • On the medium side of the dry red wines.  Give it a try!

In general dry red wines are more complex.  Like there are a ton of flavours dancing around in your mouth.  Now some people, especially when they start out with wine, might not like this complexity.  It takes lots of training to build up ones palate to be able to discern the individual flavours.

If you are interested in learning more, Wine Folly has a nice sweetness chart that can direct you to the dry red wines or if you prefer whites too.


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