Dry Versus Sweet Wines

Dry Versus Sweet Wines

Dry Versus Sweet Wines

Have you ever been handed a wine list at a restaurant and instantly you felt overwhelmed? There are so many different types of wine, how does one even begin to choose? One of the first things a person needs to know is the difference between dry and sweet wines. It may sounds obvious, but there is quite a bit of nuance that goes into the making of each and every wine, particularly the sweet wines. Here are some things you need to know before you place your order.

Dry Versus Sweet: How It’s Made

The primary difference between dry and sweet wines is how they are made. Dry wines are made the traditional way. The grapes are grown for a certain amount of time before they go through the fermentation and metabolization process. This creates the classic dry wine. If you wish to make a sweeter wine, there are a few ways you can go about it.

First you can pick the grapes before they have fully matured. This allows you to maintain the level of acidity found in the grape. They are then dried in the sun. The heat causes the sugar levels to rise creating a sweeter grape and therefore, a sweeter wine.

Another option is called chapitalization. In this process, sugar is added to the unfermented grape, increasing the alcoholic strength without compromising the sweetness of the wine. This is a process done around the world although different countries and companies have their own regulations about how much sugar is to be added to the grapes.  Here is a video on just how it is done.

Finally, you can stop the fermentation process early. During fermentation, the natural sugars in the juice will metabolize into alcohol, creating a dry beverage. In this process, they stop the fermentation before the wine has lost its sweetness.

The LCBO Sugar Code

You can tell how dry or sweet a wine is by its LCBO Sugar Code Levels. This code ranks the amount of sugar that remains in the wine. It ranges from 0 (very dry) to 30 (very sweet) Anything over a 7 is generally considered a sweet wine. However that doesn’t mean the wine will taste very sweet. Other factors such as acidity can affect the flavor of a wine. Generally a very acidic wine will also come across as dry, even if it ranks above a 7 on the LCBO Sugar Code.

Give It a Try

That was a basic rundown on the differences between dry and sweet wines. If you wish to sample some and see the differences for yourself, here’s a few examples of each.


  • French Malbec
  • Bordeaux
  • Cabernet Sauvignon


  • Port
  • Maury
  • Moscato

Cheers, Salud, and enjoy!

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