Cheers Wine & Spirits

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Tuesday, 2 June 2020
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Phil 2011/3/16

"Off-dry" is what now?

“Off-dry” in my opinion, is really a nebulous phrase. It’s supposed to tell you that the wine contains a bit of sugar, usually not enough to make the wine taste sweet, but definitely enough to make it taste fruity and round. There are many "definitions" that one can find for off-dry. I’ve seen it "defined" as 6 to 14 grams per liter of residual sugar but I’ve also seen it defined as 12 to 20 grams or 18 to 45 grams. That’s just people getting fancy with the spices. The bottom line is a wine that is off-dry has a little sugar left. And what exactly is "a little"? Well, that depends on so many things that no one seems to be able to define it!

One way to gauge how much sugar might be left in a particular wine is to take a look at the alcohol level of that wine. Every 10 grams or so of sugar in a liter of juice will convert to about one-half a degree of alcohol. If the same juice is both fermented dry as well as in an off-dry style with 20 grams of residual sugar, you can expect the off-dry version of the wine to have an alcoholic content about one degree lower than its dry counterpart.

The bottom line for me is there are many variables involved and while the above explanation is a rather inaccurate to rate a wine's sweetness, but sometimes it’s all you have to go on!