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Just how dry is a dry wine?

Most of the world`s premium DRY wines are those with less than 4g per litre of residual sugar (RS), equivalent to 1% of the wine`s volume. The category is diverse and obliging, with scope to retain up to 9g per litre residual sugar, provided the wine has acidity to balance. This option is oft adopted by the supermarket chains, to round out the wine, thus giving it a smooth mouthfeel. The best of these are okay, but the worst of them can have a sickly, bubble-gum confectionery taste, not unlike the medium-sweet Liebfraumilch drank by Brits in years gone by. The paradigm shift to better quality dry wines over the past couple of decades bears witness to an increasingly more sophisticated UK palate.  Now we drink huge amounts of dry Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay; and in red, Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec, to name a few. There are thousands of grape varieties which suit the dry wine category.  The driest – white and red – are near bone dry, with less than 2g or even 1g per litre RS; our Gavi di Gavi for example at 2g per litre is lean, crisp and zesty. We have an even drier Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley, with just 0.3g per litre. Our Muscadet Sur Lie is bone dry, a good choice for diabetics. These are the crisp, light and fresh variety of dry wines.  Others are soft, rich and fruity. Indeed, a good many technically dry wines can give something of the impression of sweetness.   Some rich, high-glycerine mouth-filling dry wines can seem unctuous and sweet at first, before finishing dry; just try some of the dry white wines of Alsace. A wine`s apparent sweet note can be down to its high alcohol content, for example. Additionally, a wine`s fruit quality can at first give the impression of sweetness. A combination of these can quite easily trick your brain into registering sweetness.  So, when you next go out to buy a dry wine, think to yourself: just how dry do I want it?

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