When you take a sip of wine at a family meal or celebration, what do you notice?
First, you probably note the visual characteristics: the color is generally red, rosé or white. Next, you smell the aromatic compounds wafting up from your glass.
And then there’s the sensation in your mouth when you taste it. White wine and rosé are usually described as refreshing, because they have brisk acidity and little to moderate sweetness. Those low levels of sugar may lead you to perceive these wines as “dry.”
People also describe wines as dry when alcohol levels are high, usually over about 13%, mostly because the ethanol leads to hot or burning sensations that cover up other sensations, especially sweetness. People also perceive red wines as dry or astringent because they contain a class of molecules called polyphenols.