Dry wine is a wine that lacks residual sugars, resulting in subtle flavor notes. The primary flavor gradient of wine is sweetness: Sweet wines are on one side of the spectrum, while dry wines are on the other. There are many varieties of dry wine in both red and white categories, from all different growing regions and types of grapes.\n\nTo some degree, a wine’s sweetness or dryness is subjective, but winemakers classify wines according to the percent by volume of residual sugar. Yeasts convert the natural sugars in grape juice to ethanol (alcohol) in the fermentation process. Sweeter wines have a higher amount of sugar in the finished product:\n\n1. __Dry__: A wine is dry if it has less than .5 percent residual sugar, which amounts to 5 grams per liter. There are no strict guidelines, and some winemakers consider the cutoff point for dry at 3–4 grams per liter.\n2. __Medium dry__: These wines are usually in the range of 1–2 percent residual sugar, or 10 to 20 grams of sugar per liter.\n3. __Off-dry__: Usually, wines in the range of 3 percent residual sugar are considered off-dry or semi-dry. These wines taste noticeably sweeter to most wine drinkers.\n4. __Semi-sweet__: Semi-sweet or medium wines contain 5–7.5 percent residual sugar with up to 75 grams of sugar per liter of wine.\n5. __Sweet__: Also known as [dessert wines](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/dessert-wine-guide), these are wines that are usually over 7.5 percent residual sugar. These wines are sweet, wine drinkers usually consume them in smaller quantities because of their sugar content.\nThese are varieties of dry wines fermented without the skins, contributing to their light color and usually-crisp flavor profile. They are listed in order of dryness, beginning with the driest:\n\n1. __Sauvignon blanc__: This popular dry white wine is known for its dryness and crispness, making it refreshing, clean, and great for cooking. [Sauvignon blancs](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-sauvignon-blanc-grapes-wine-region-taste-and-pairings) tend to have herbal, grassy flavor notes, with lighter notes of fruit and crisp acidity.\n2. __Chardonnay__: One of the most popular varieties of white wine, [Chardonnay](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-chardonnay-grape-oaked-vs-unoaked-how-to-serve-and-pairings) is dry, but it can also be quite fruity, with notes of apple and tropical fruit. Some Chardonnay wines age in oak barrels and have notes of vanilla and toasted fruit or grain.\n3. __Pinot grigio__: [Pinot grigio](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-pinot-grigio-grapes-winemaking-and-the-best-pairings) wines tend to be semi-dry or medium, but can range from quite dry to fruity and somewhat sweet.\n4. __Moscato__: Usually somewhat sweet, [Moscato](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guide-to-moscato-wine) is an aromatic and acidic variety in the medium-dry range. It has a light body and easy drinkability.\n5. __Riesling__: This varietal originated in Germany, but [Rieslings](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-riesling-grapes-wine-history-and-region) are produced worldwide. Rieslings can be semi-dry all the way to sweet and are often highly aromatic and acidic.\nRed wine is distinguished by its deep red color, which comes from the skins included in the winemaking process. Popular dry red wines include:\n\n1. __Chianti__: [Chianti](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-chianti) is a medium-bodied, highly acidic, tartly-juicy ruby red wine with flavors of cherry and earth, produced primarily with Sangiovese grapes in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. Chianti features a high level of tannin, which contributes to its dry flavor. It has a floral scent and is deeply savory.\n2. __Tempranillo__: [Tempranillo](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-tempranillo-grapes-wine-region-and-pairings#what-is-the-history-of-the-tempranillo-grape) is one of the driest varietals of red wine, usually grown and made in Spain. \n3. __Cabernet sauvignon__: One of the most popular and commonly-found varieties of red wine, cabernet sauvignon tends to be full-bodied and packed with flavor, without much sweetness.\n4. __Pinot noir__: Another highly popular varietal, [pinot noir](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/wine-101-what-is-pinot-noir-how-to-serve-pinot-noir-and-how-to-pair-pinot-noir) is light-bodied and often fruity, with a range of sweetness levels from dry to off-dry or medium.\n5. __Merlot__: [Merlot](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-merlot-what-is-merlot-how-to-pair-merlot-and-where-merlot-grows) is grown and made worldwide, from France to California. It is known for its balanced flavor profile, and tends to be dry or medium dry.\n6. __Syrah__: [Syrah](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-syrah-and-shiraz), also known as sirah and shiraz, tends to be a bit on the sweeter side, with notes of fruits.\n7. __Malbec__: This variety was originally grown in France, but has since become the most important red grown in Argentina. [Malbec](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-malbec-wine) wines are full-bodied, with medium dryness and notes of tobacco and chocolate.\n8. __Zinfandel__: This is another flavor-packed, full-bodied wine that, in addition to being on the sweeter side of dry. [Zinfandel](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/a-guide-to-red-zinfandel-white-zinfandel-and-how-to-pair-zinfandel-wines) wines can also have earthy, smoky flavors.\n\nThe grape skins impart the characteristic [tannins](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-wine-what-are-tannins) of red wines, which have a drying or astringent mouthfeel. Although this can contribute to a sense of dryness, it is different from the dryness associated with a lack of residual sugar.\n\nWant to learn more about the culinary arts? The [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) provides exclusive video lessons from the world’s best chefs and wine critics, including James Suckling, Lynnette Marrero, Ryan Chetiyawardana, Gabriela Cámara, Gordon Ramsay, Massimo Bottura, and more. \nLearn about dry wine—wine that is light on sugar and has a crisp, bright taste.