11 White Wines By Dryness: The Ultimate Guide

The best way to start to describe how a wine tastes is defining it by its dryness. When it comes to white wines, one of the first things you’ll hear about the wine is whether it’s dry or sweet.

11 White Wines By Dryness The Ultimate Guide

Understanding the difference between the two terms is the first step to finding your new favorite bottle of white wine. 

For those who don’t know what either term means, dry wines undergo a longer fermentation period and have less sugar, whereas sweet wines have a shorter fermentation period and contain added sugar.

Therefore, dry wines are typically more bitter than sweet wines.  

So, if you’re new to the world of white wines, or perhaps you consider yourself a wine connoisseur of sorts, you’re probably here to find your new favorite dry white wine. Here is the ultimate guide to 11 white wines by dryness!

Dry Vs Sweet White Wines

Firstly, let’s take a look at the difference between dry and sweet white wines. 

The easiest way to differentiate dry from sweet white wines is that the word “dry” is literally the opposite of “sweet”.

When a white wine is classed as dry, this is because the wine has less sugar than sweet wines. The grapes that make white wines are naturally sweet, but the sugar converts to alcohol during fermentation. 

So, the longer the fermentation process, the less sugar the wine is going to have. As dry wines have a longer fermentation period than sweet wines, it makes them less sweet.

The fermentation process leaves dry wine with little to no residual sugar, resulting in less than 1 gram of residual sugar per glass (compared to 20 grams per glass in sweet wines). 

To look for the driest white wine, make sure to check out the residual sugar content. The lower the content, the dryer the wine will be!

11 White Wines By Dryness 

Now that we know what determines a dry white wine, let’s take a look at the 11 white wines by dryness.

This list will include the driest white wines on the market, as well as some that are classified as dry but have hints of sweetness. 

It’s important to note that each white wine will have varying degrees of dryness depending on the winemaker. Not all bottles of Chardonnay, for example, are going to taste the same.

Each winemaker will put their signature spin on the wine, which usually varies in dryness and sweetness. 


Assyrtiko is believed to be the driest white wine variety available, and is also one of the most exotic wines you can find. Originating from Greece, this wine is named after the Assyrtiko grapes, which are used to brew the wine. 

Interestingly, these grapes grow in the soil of the Aegean Islands, including Paros and Santorini. The soil is rich with volcanic ash, which is what makes this such a unique wine.

The European grape vine is the only type to be resistant to wine blight, which could be from the volcanic ash. 

Assyrtiko white wine is fermented for 4 to 6 months depending on the winemaker, making it a particularly dry wine. It is a light-bodied wine that is crisp, featuring minerality, saline, and notes of citrus fruits and tropical tones. 

Sauvignon Blanc

One of the most popular white wines is the humble Sauvignon Blanc, produced in the Bordeaux region of France.

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes that brew the wine can vary in flavor depending on the type of climate the grapes grow in, resulting in wines of different flavors. 

However, whether the wine is sweet or earthy in flavor, it is basically always a dry wine. The driest Sauvignon Blanc is the French variety, but you can get sweeter versions that are less dry from the New World of California and New Zealand. 

Sauvignon Blanc will taste different depending on the winemaker, but it will always be a fairly fruity wine with notes of peach, lime, green apple, and gooseberry.

The highest quality French Sauvignon Blancs will have notes of fresh green bell pepper. 

Melon De Bourgogne

Affectionately known as Melon, Melon de Bourgogne is another dry French white wine that is often considered the driest white wine available.

This wine derives from the Loire Valley, even though the Melon grapes originated in Burgundy in the 18th century. They were then replanted after a harsh winter in the Loire Valley. 

Nowadays, Melon wines are most commonly grown in California, though the highest quality wines of this variety are still made in France.

Melon de Bourgogne wine tastes predominantly like the namesake grapes, with varying levels of tanginess depending on the fermentation process length. 

Pinot Grigio

Even if you’re not familiar with wines, you’ve almost definitely heard of Pinot Grigio. Interestingly, while Pinot Grigio is believed to originate from Italy, the Pinot grape is actually from Burgundy, France.

Still, the grapes are grown across the world nowadays, and can be processed in different ways depending on the winemaker. 

For the most part, Pinot Grigio is a dry wine that has a fairly neutral flavor profile. It can be both dry and sweet at the same time, and works as a good counterpart to Pinot Noir.

It’s a pretty bog standard dry white wine, though the flavors will vary according to the winemaker and the refining process. 


Like Pinot Grigio, another well-known dry white wine is Chardonnay. Chardonnay grapes are incredibly versatile, making white wines as well as sparkling champagnes – which can only earn the name if it was made in the Champagne region of France. 

The white wine originates in Burgundy, France, and serves as a popular white wine for celebrating occasions. It’s a crisp dry wine that is refreshing and the right amount of bitter and sweet.

However, if it’s from California, Chardonnay will taste oaky and buttery. 


Another grape from the Bordeaux region of France is the Sémillon grape, which produces Sémillon wine.

The grape was introduced to Australia in the 19th century, which is why Sémillon wine is most commonly referred to as an Australian wine. 

A common argument among wine lovers is whether Sémillon is sweet or dry. Truth is, it can be either dry or sweet depending on the winemaker and vinification process.

The primary flavors of Sémillon wine are apple, pear, lemon, and green papaya. It’s also a distinctly waxy wine, with a fairly oily texture. 


Just like Sémillon wine, people will often argue about whether Riesling is a dry or sweet wine. Riesling is particularly popular as an accompaniment to seafood, and earns its spot as Germany’s most popular white wine.

The grapes are native to the Rhine region of Germany, and are said to be the most grown grape in the country. 

The reason why Riesling is such a popular white wine is because the grapes have a high acidity, which is responsible for the dry flavor.

Despite this, Riesling is still distinctly sweet, which is why people often can’t tell if it’s a sweet or dry wine. 

While it might taste sweet, the fermentation process and acidity of the Riesling grapes makes this a dry white wine.

There are, however, sweet versions of the wine available in Germany, or very dry versions available from Alsace, France. 

Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner is a German wine made from Grüner Veltliner grapes, which are the second-most common grapes grown in Germany and the Czech Republic.

It’s such a popular wine in Europe, that it makes up for 11% of wines manufactured in the Czech Republic, and 32.6% of the wine produced in Austria and Germany. 

The main reason why Grüner Veltliner is so popular is because of its dryness. It’s not as sweet or as sugary as Riesling, and instead features more distinctive notes of pepper and citrus.

Grüner Veltliner is certainly not an easy bottle of wine to find, but it’s a treat for those who love dry wines. 


Viognier is a fairly fruity wine, which is why it might come as a surprise to belong on this list of dry white wines.

Despite the fruity appearance and aroma, and low acidity of the grapes, Viognier wines are a dry white wine. It all comes down to the manufacturing process, after all. 

Viognier grapes are the only grapes authorized for use in the Rhone Valley, France. However, Viognier grapes are vinified in Israel, New Zealand, and the United States. 


Torrontés is an Argentinian wine that comes in three varieties – Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Mendocino, and Torrontés Sanjuanino.

In most cases, the Torrontés wine is an aromatic dry wine that is most commonly paired with Indian and Asian cuisine. 

As for the aroma, this wine has sweet floral scents of rose petals, and a fragrant flavor profile of peach and lemon zest.

While it is a fairly aromatic white wine, it is still fairly dry in most cases. It is often likened to the Chardonnay or Muscat grape varieties. 


Also known as Moscato, Muscat wine is made of one of the oldest grape varieties in the world. Due to the Muscat grape’s expansive history, there are hundreds of versions of the grape, which vary in sweetness and flavor.

As a result, there are lots of varieties of Muscat wine. 

For most Muscat wines, this is considered a sweet dessert wine. Despite this, Muscat is mostly produced as a dry wine as it can be aged for up to 4 years. It can also be produced as a medium, sweet, or sparkling wine. 

Sweet Vs Fruity Wines

Now that we know about the driest white wines available and how the fermentation process is responsible for how dry the wine is, let’s take a look at what makes a wine sweet or fruity.

Contrary to popular belief, these words are two separate descriptions of wine. 

It feels ironic when we describe a dry white wine as “fruity”. However, it’s important to remember that the dryness of wine is defined by its residual sugar content, not how much it tastes like fruit.

So, a white wine can taste like peaches, pears, apples, and citrus fruits while still being classed as a dry wine. 

It takes a while to get used to the descriptors of white wine. Trying to convince your brain that a fruity wine is generally more dry than sweet isn’t easy.

The key is to remember that the sugar in the grapes will convert into alcohol and lose their residual sugar the longer they are fermented for – but the flavor of the fruit remains. 

Dry Wine Vs Wine That Dries Our Mouths

Another common misconception about dry white wines is that they must dry out our mouths. However, there is a key difference between dry wines and wines that dry out our mouths – tannins. 

Tannins are responsible for making our mouths dry, and work as a natural antioxidant to protect the wine against bacteria.

They are most commonly found in red wines rather than white wines, which is why red wine tends to age better. Dry white wines, on the other hand, just lack residual sugar and sweetness. 

So, the key thing to remember is that dry white wines won’t have a drying effect, unlike wines that contain tannins. 

How To Tell If Wine Is Dry Or Sweet

If you’re not sure that you’ll be able to tell the difference between a dry and sweet wine, you can simply look at the label.

It won’t necessarily state whether the wine is dry or sweet, but the general rule is that the higher the alcohol level, the dryer the wine. 

This is because dry wines have a longer fermentation process, which means that grapes have longer to produce a higher alcohol content.

Sweet wines will have a lower alcohol content, on the other hand, as the grapes haven’t been fermented for as long. The less residual sugar, the more alcohol!

Any white wine that has an ABV of 10% or lower is most likely to be sweet. If a wine is over 12%, then it should be a dry wine.

If the wine has an ABV of 10-12%, it should sit somewhere in the middle of dry and sweet, known as off-dry. 


So, there you have it! Hopefully, if you are new to the world of wines, this guide has helped you to understand the difference between dry and sweet wines.

You never know, we might have helped you find your new favorite dry white wine!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Most Popular Dry White Wine?

Arguably, the most popular dry white wine is the humble Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is manufactured in France and is almost always dry, regardless of the winemaker.

It is served with a variety of foods, including seafood, green vegetables, chicken, and herb-based dishes. 

Due to the popularity of Sauvignon Blanc, it is also known as one of the most affordable dry white wines available across the world. 

Which Is Drier Chardonnay Or Pinot Grigio?

Interestingly, Chardonnay is said to be more dry than Pinot Grigio. This might come as a shock to some, as Chardonnay is typically sweeter than Pinot Grigio, which is generally a fairly bitter and highly acidic wine. 

Of course, it mostly depends on the manufacturing process and the winemaker’s decision. In most cases, however, a Chardonnay is typically drier than a Pinot Grigio. This is why Chardonnay usually has a higher ABV content. 

Is Pinot Grigio Very Dry?

Pinot Grigio is a popular dry white wine, but it’s not the driest white wine available. As it’s so popular, there are many varieties of Pinot Grigio that vary in alcohol content and sweetness.

So, it’s not easy to say that every single Pinot Grigio bottle is the same in terms of dryness. In most cases, it’s easy to say that Pinot Grigio is a medium-dry wine. 

Sarah Perez
Scroll to Top