There is an army of wine aficionados that prefer to drink dry white wines over any other wines. Dry wines such as Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc can be found in almost any part of the world where there are vineyards (although French white wines are often on the dry end of the spectrum). Wine aficionados cherish them because they can be easily paired with various foods, as well as because of their crisp flavors. Then there is the fact that they are amazingly refreshing during the warm summer months.

Defining Dry Wines

Each varietal features different degrees of natural sugars. Many factors determine that; the most prominent ones are the level of juice concentration and at what point in the season the grapes were harvested.

During the fermentation process, sugars are turned from grape juice into alcohol. Once the sugar is converted into alcohol, we can evaluate whether the wine can be considered dry or not. If the residual sugar doesn’t exceed 1% of wine’s volume, that particular wine can be regarded as dry. That’s around four grams of sugar per liter.

Wines that contain residual sugar of twelve grams per liter are considered medium-dry, whereas those with higher levels of residual sugar than that are considered off-dry or sweet.

Dry white wine
Dry white wine can be determined by the residual sugar in the wine content – generally, under 12g/L is considered medium dry while higher levels are off-dry or sweet.

Very Dry Wines

For a wine to be considered very dry, it needs to contain less than four grams per liter of residual sugar. Their crispness makes them perfect for those in favor of dry wines. Some of the most notable very dry wines are:

Sauvignon Blanc

This wine represents the very definition of how a very dry wine should look and taste like. It is a super crispy wine featuring balanced acidity and notes of various fruits. Sauvignon Blanc is spread all over the world in regions such as Bordeaux, California, New Zealand, Austria, Washington State, South Africa, and many others.


This aromatic white wine is a rising star among the dry wine lovers. Some of the best Torrontés wines come from the South American continent. To be more precise from Argentina, where some of the best vineyards are located. Its palate includes notes of both citrus and peach, along with other floral notes typical for the region where they come from.


This Spanish wine is known for its bright acid and refreshing flavors. In Portugal, this same wine is known as Alvarinho. But no matter how you call it, it goes perfectly with seafood that is a big part of the Spanish cuisine.

Albariño region
Albariño is a fantastic Spanish wine which will often be on the dry end of the residual sugar spectrum. It pairs fantastically with seafood, and is an integral part of true Spanish cooking!

Medium Dry Wines

They can contain as much as twelve grams per liter of residual sugar. On average, they are sweeter than very dry wines, but not so sweet so that they can be classified as dessert wines. Here are some prime examples of popular medium-dry wines.

Pinot Blanc

This white wine variety is mainly grown in Italy, Austria, France, and Germany. Its profile is very similar to Chardonnay as it has notes of almonds and apples.


This French variety is recognized across the world because of its fragranced aromas of honeysuckle and peaches. Many winemakers blend it with Syrah to create a wine featuring notes of citrus.


Riesling wines can be sweet or dry. It thrives in cooler regions such as Alsace and Germany. Riesling wines tend to be very acidic and contain notes of apples, stone fruits, and minerals. Fine examples of dry Riesling can also be found in California, Oregon, and Washington. This is a stark contrast to sweet Riesling, which can be so high on the residual sugar spectrum it is often best compared to Muscat wine!

Riesling grapes
Riesling is a wine to watch, as they can vary significantly from sweet to dry. Often, you will be able to find a Riesling specifically singled out as being dry or sweet and it is precisely because the residual sugar can vary so much!

Food Pairing

When it comes to dry wines and food pairing, there are no rules written in stone. But, if you like some directions, consider the following.

  • Torrontes, Riesling, and Viognier wines are quite acidic or spicy. That makes them perfect with Asian food, which is typically very spicy.
  • Sauvignon Blanc is best suited with vegetables or salad.
  • Albarino goes perfectly with raw fish.
  • Sauvignon Blanc goes nicely with light foods like halibut.
  • Oaky wines such as Chardonnay can be paired with fatty foods.
  • Sparkling white wines such as Champagne can be paired with salty foods.
Don’t be intimidated

Don’t be intimated by the term “dry”. Most dry white wines are very accessible and aren’t too sweet. They can be especially enjoyable when chilled to the right temperature and complementary foods. If you manage to get those two things right, your joy will be immense.