How do ‘dry’ wines taste dry when they’re a liquid?



I never knew what people meant when they said dry wines until I drank one recently and it definitely tastes dry. It’s a liquid though and I’m curious how this works.

In: Chemistry

Dry wines for me seem to dry out the tongue, almost. You sip the wine, swallow, and all of a sudden your tongue is left without moisture; all that is left is the aftertaste of the wine

Dry is simply the opposite of sweet. Dry wine means it has a low sugar content. They tend to be quite sharp, the same way lemon juice is, and I suppose that could taste “dry”.

“Dry” is just the wine lingo word for “not sweet.” Sugar tends to make us salivate a little bit, which might explain why “dry” is used to mean a wine with little sugar – because the sour, bitter, and tannic flavors in wine can make the mouth feel drier without much sugar to compensate.

However, it is mainly the tannins in wine that cause that puckery, drying out feeling on the tongue. The same compounds in a strong cup of tea. But we describe wines with a high amount of those tannins as “tannic,” rather than dry. Confusingly, a wine can have plenty of sweetness and high tannins, meaning that your mouth might have that dry feeling, but the wine shouldn’t be considered “dry.” It’s just a term that’s been used historically for drinks without much sugar content.