What Is A Dry Red Wine? Types, Food Pairings, & Proper Storage

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Red wine in clear glass on a table

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Have you ever wondered what is a dry red wine? And what is the difference between dry wine and sweet wine? We have all the answers.

A dry red wine is a type of wine that is not sweet because it has no sugar. Meanwhile, sweet red wine has residual sugar in it.

Read this article to learn more about the dry red wine types you should try, dry wine food pairings, and how to store dry red wine properly.

Difference Between Dry Red Wine and Sweet Wine

As mentioned earlier, dry wine has no leftover sugar. This is because it finished the whole fermentation process so that the yeast could consume all the grapes’ sugar.

Meanwhile, sweet red wine has leftover sugar because the winemakers did not finish the entire fermentation, giving sweetness to the drink.

Wine can be considered dry if it has equal to or less than 10 g/L of sugar. If the wine has a sugar level between 10-24 g/L, it is considered off-dry or medium-sweet.

Here is a video explaining the difference between the two types of wine:

Why is Dry Red Wine Sought-After?

Dry wines are famous because they provide a great sensory experience, and you can pair them with different kinds of food. You may also use them for your cooking needs.

Another great thing about this type of wine is that it will taste much better after aging if you store them properly for a few years. They also have very high tannin concentration, which contributes to their aging potential.

Various Dry Red Wine TypesDifferent bottles of wine

There are many types of dry red wine to choose from, and each of them has its characteristic taste. They originally came from France but are now grown around the world.

Here we listed the different red wine types so you can choose which one you prefer.

Bordeaux-Style Dry Red Wines

These types of wine originated in Bordeaux, France. But now, they are also grown in Tuscany, California, and South America.

They are abundant in tannins and have dark fruit aromas. They are a mixture of different flavors such as tobacco, dark cherries, and stone fruits.

Its varieties include the following:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape used to produce hearty tannic wines. It is often blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and a variety of other wines. 

This dry red wine is complex and bold with various flavors like black currant, olives, and black cherry.

  • Cabernet Franc

This grape can be mixed with other varieties but can also be used on its own. These dry red wines have red fruit, floral, and dark fruit notes.

  • Malbec

Malbec originally came from France, but it is now very famous in Argentina as well. It has a high tannin concentration and has a dark red color. It is available in spice and black cherry flavors.

  • Merlot

This type of grape variety can be produced in two styles, the traditional Bordeaux style and the New World style.

The traditional style is produced by harvesting the grapes early to preserve the acidity of the grapes. Merlot Wines are medium-bodied, and they come in red fruit flavors.

Meanwhile, the New World Style is inky purple and is full-bodied. It comes in blackberry fruit flavor.

  • Carménère

Carménère originally came from Bordeaux, but recently it is commonly grown in Chile. It comes in cocoa, spice, and black fruit flavor, and its scent is like those of green bell pepper.

  • Petit Verdot

Like Cabernet Franc, this grape is commonly used for blended wines but can also be used independently. It comes in spice and violet flavors.

Rhône-Style Dry Red Wines

This dry red wine type originated from the Rhône region in France. However, it now grows in Australia, Spain, and California.

Rhône-style wines have various aromas, which include cherries, nutmeg, and stone fruits. You can enjoy drinking them at a young age, but some have excellent aging potential that depends on their tannin concentration.

  • Cinsault

This grape variety originated from Southern Rhône and grew in places with warmer climates. Cinsault creates light, fruity wines, making them a perfect combination with red wine blends with Grenache grapes.

  • Grenache

Grenache is commonly mixed with other Rhône-Style wines, and it is used to produce rosé and a few sweet wine bends. 

Grapes from warmer regions, such as Spain and the South of France, create fruity, ripe wines. You will enjoy its flavors of spice and cherry.

This dry red wine type is very famous in Australia and Spain. 

  • Mourvèdre

Unlike the other grape varieties that came from France, Mourvèdre originated from Spain. However, in France, it is blended with Syrah and Grenache. 

If you like black current and blackberry flavors, then this dry red wine is for you.

  • Syrah

Also known as Shiraz, Syrah is considered a versatile grape variety. It can make wine dense and spicy or light and fruity, depending on where it was grown.

If Syrah was grown in a warm climate, its wine is more jammy and has fewer tannins. The flavors that it produces are anise, licorice, and baking spice.

Meanwhile, if the grapes came from a place with a cold climate, the wine becomes medium to full-bodied with a high concentration of tannins. It is available in blackberry and tobacco with a hint of earthiness.

Burgundy-Style Dry Red Wines 

The main grape variety in this style is the Pinot Noir, which is considered the 5th most planted grape worldwide. Besides Burgundy, they are also grown in the following places:

  • California 
  • Oregon 
  • New Zealand
  • Germany
  • Chile
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Switzerland

If you’re looking for a dry red wine type with fewer tannins and is light to medium-bodied, this wine is perfect for you.

You have various flavors to choose from, such as raspberry, strawberry, and black cherry. Pinot Noir also has excellent aging potential, and its flavor becomes more creamy and complex as it ages.

Other Dry Red Wine Varieties

  • Barbera

Barbera can be found in Piedmont, Italy, and it comes in a robust black fruit flavor. The most well-known examples of this dry red wine type are Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti.

  • Gamay

This variety is usually found in the Beaujolais part of France. Gamay is used to produce light and fruity aromatic wines that are best to drink when young.

  • Nebbiolo

This is a type of grape that is typically grown in the Piedmont part of Italy. The Nebbiolo 

is used in producing prestigious wines such as Barbarescos and Barolos, which are highly popular among all sorts of drinkers and collectors.

Nebbiolo wines have high acidity and tannin concentration, as well as excellent aging potential. As it ages, it forms complex and rich flavors of truffles, licorice, and rose petals.

  • Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah originally came from France but became popular in Chile, Argentina, California, and Australia. Its wines are dark and come in a blackberry flavor with a hint of pepper and spices.

  • Sangiovese

Sangiovese is commonly found in the Chianti part of Italy. Its wines are medium-bodied with cherry and plum aromas with a remarkable tart finish. The best way for you to enjoy Sangiovese wine is to pair it with food rather than drink it alone.

  • Tempranillo

This grape variety originated from Spain. Tempranillo can be enjoyed on its own, as well as blended with other grapes such as Grenache. Winemakers also use it to create sweet wines such as Port.

This dry red wine type is aged in oak barrels where it gets an aftertaste mixed with different flavors like smoke, leather, and red plum.

  • Zinfandel

Zinfandel originally came from Croatia but became very popular in California. If you’re looking for a dry red wine type that is easy to drink and light-bodied, consider having this wine.

Zinfandel comes in delicious strawberry and red fruit flavors, and it can be used to produce dessert wine.

Dry Red Wine for CookingWine being poured into a pot

When choosing what wine to use, remember to avoid cooking wines. These are a mixture of low-quality wines and salt, and buying expensive dry red wine for cooking is also unnecessary.

If you plan to braise beef roast, lamb, ribs, or another red meat, choose Syrah/Shiraz or Zinfandel. These robust wines will pair nicely with these hearty dishes.

If you want to cook a beef stew or a recipe with wine-based sauce, Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon are the best options for you.

Try purchasing small portions of the wine if you don't drink or cook with it often. Some of these brands sell individual servings in bottles or boxes, making it easy to have them on hand when you want to use dry red wine for cooking.

Dry Wine Food PairingsWooden platter containing biscuits, cheese, fruits, and meat

Dry red wines are great to consume with food as long as you pair them correctly. Here are some excellent food pairings that we recommend you to try:

  • Dry Red Wine and Earthy Flavors

Food made with earthy ingredients such as truffles and mushrooms is fantastic with red wines like Dolcetto and Pinot Noir. This is because they are light-bodied but with a lot of savory depth.

  • Dry Red Wine and Juicy Red Meat

If you’re craving steaks or lambs, you should pair it with Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or Bordeaux-style blends. The tannins of those dry red wines make these food pairings genuinely delicious.

  • Dry Rosé and Cheesy Dishes

Almost everyone loves cheese. But it would taste even better if you pair it with dry rosé because its acidity is similar to that of white wine with red wine’s fruity character.

  • Dry Wine and Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is great for family dinners and house parties, but it’s better if you pair it with Shiraz, Malbec, and Côtes-du-Rhône.

  • Dry Red Wine and Spicy Dishes

When a piece of meat has been heavily seasoned, it goes well with red wine with many spicy notes. Cabernet Franc from France, Syrah from Washington, and Xinomavro from Greece are fantastic choices for spicy dishes.

  • Dry Red Wines and Mousses, Terrines, and Pâtes

This food combination is rustic and rich and works well with Zinfandel and Italy’s Nero d’Avola.

  • Dry White Wine with Dark, Leafy Greens

When a dish has many herbs, it would be great to pair it with Austrian Grüner Veltliner, Vermentino from Italy, and Albariño from Spain.

  • Sweet Dry Wine and Spicy Dishes

They say that if you eat something spicy, you should drink something sweet to tame the heat. Rieslings, Vouvrays, and Gewürztraminers will definitely do the trick.

  • Old World Wines and Old World Dishes

Food and wine flavors that have evolved together over the years, such as Tuscan wine and Tuscan food, are perfect together. The medium-bodied Chianti is an example of Tuscan wine.

How to Store Dry Red WineWines stored on a wooden shelf

  • Store at the Right Temperature

Temperature is the most crucial factor in storing your dry red wine. On average, the temperature of your wine storage should be 55°F or 13°C, but this may change depending on the wine. You may ask the manufacturer for wine temperature suggestions.

Do not store your wine at a temperature below its freezing point (typically 22°F or -5.6°C) because it will turn ice cold.

On the other hand, if the storage temperature is higher than 68°F or 20°C, it may speed up the wine’s aging, causing the volatile compounds to be destroyed. If this is the case, you might need to invest in a wine cellar cooling system.

Remember to maintain your wine storage at a stable temperature because fluctuations may cause the cork or stopper to be pushed out a little, causing the air to enter or the wine to ooze out. To remove the air that entered the bottle, you can use a wine preservation system.

  • Store at Proper Humidity

Humidity also affects the dry red wine’s quality. When humidity is low, the cork may dry out, making it vulnerable to oxygen.

Meanwhile, high humidity might remove the wine label, making the bottle hard to display or sell. We recommend that you keep the wine storage humidity at about 60-68%.

  • Store Your Bottles Horizontally

Keeping the dry red wine bottle on its side keeps the cork moist. If the cork becomes dried out, it causes premature aging and seepage. 

It’s not obligatory to keep wine bottles on their side, but horizontal storage provides easy access and maximum space on your wine rack.

  • Store in a Dark, Quiet Area

No matter how long you want to keep your dry red wine, store it in an area away from sunlight. UV rays from light sources could damage the wine’s aroma and flavor.

Also, keep your bottles away from vibration because it can disturb the sediments in the wine, disrupting its aging process.

  • Store Bottle in a Wine Fridge

You may also store your bottle in a wine refrigerator. Please note that this appliance is different from a standard refrigerator that makes your food dry and cold. 

A wine fridge keeps your wine at the right humidity and proper temperature between 50-60°F or 10-15°C. Some refrigerators also have a cooler setting specifically for keeping champagnes.

It's a good idea to keep your dry red wine in a separate wine refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination from odors of different foods.

A wine fridge might be expensive, but it is an excellent investment to protect your wine and maintain its optimal flavor and aroma.

How to Extend the Shelf Life of Dry Red WineMan opening a bottle with a sword

An opened bottle of wine has a shelf life of 3-5 days. But you may extend this by promptly and tightly placing back its cork. You can do this by placing wax paper encircling the cork and then sliding it into its original place.

The cork will ease into the top by the wax, ensuring that no parts of the cork will drop into the bottle.

If the cork is damaged or thrown away, you can use a wine stopper to make a tight seal. You can also use a wine vacuum pump to remove the air out of the bottle, thus creating an almost airtight seal.

How to Serve Dry Red Wine

Before serving your dry red wine in wine glasses, you should chill it slightly lower than room temperature. We suggest a temperature between 58-65°F or 14-18°C.

The serving temperature depends on the age of the wine. Older wines are better at temperatures ranging from 61-65°F or 16-18°C, while younger wines should be served colder.

Red wines with more tannins are served at a higher temperature than lighter red wines, which can be served at about 55°F or 13°C.

Dry Red Wine FAQ 

1. Can a dry wine be sweet?

Yes, a dry wine can be sweet. Dry wines that are light-bodied and have low tannin levels are sweeter than wines with high tannin levels and a bitter taste.

Dry wines have different sweet flavors such as strawberry, raspberry, and other fruits. Some have an excellent aroma as well, but it still depends on how the person perceives taste.

2. Is dry wine better than sweet?

In terms of health benefits, dry wine is better because it has less sugar. Dry wine is appropriate for diabetics and people under a keto diet.

But if sugar content doesn’t matter to you, their comparison depends on how you like your wine to taste.

3. How will you pick a dry red wine?

In picking wine, you have to consider what you’re going to use it for. If you’re going to use the dry red wine for cooking, choose depending on what recipe you’re planning to cook. 

If it’s for drinking, select depending on the taste, aroma, aging potential, body, and the number of tannins that you want. The price may also play a huge factor. 

You may ask a wine expert or do your research to help choose the best dry red wine for you.

4. What is the driest type of red wine?

The driest type of red wine is considered bone dry. It has a high tannin concentration and a bitter taste. Wines that are classified as bone dry are French Malbec, Nebbiolo, Sagrantino, and Tannat.

5. Which dry red wine is best for beginners?

For beginners, we recommend you try the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Zinfandel. Each has its distinct taste, so try them out to have a better idea of what you’re looking for.

Conclusion

Dry wine has little to no sugar in it. There are many dry red wine types, and you can use them for drinking, cooking, and pairing with food.

We hope you enjoyed this article and have gained additional knowledge in your search for the best wine. 

So, what kind of dry red wine do you like most? Let us know in the comments.


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