My rating scale for wines used to be simply put as either “sweet and good” or “bitter and nasty”.
I know now that there is a more sophisticated way to rate a wine’s sweetness. Instead of using bitter/nasty, the correct term is dry, and I no longer find dry wines to be unappealing. I actually prefer them, but only to a certain extent.
Wines can range from either bone dry to richly sweet. Below is the order.
Dry-> Off dry-> Medium Dry/Semi-sweet-> Medium Sweet-> Sweet/Very Sweet
In order to be classified as a dry wine, it must have no more than 9 g/L of residual sugar unless the acidity is 7 g/L. Residual sugar is the level of glucose and fructose aka grape sugars that were not turned into alcohol during the fermenting process.
Do not get confused though. A wine can still have a lot of residual sugar but not taste sweet because of the levels of acidity and bitterness. A good example of this is one of my favorites, German Riesling. Rieslings are typically on the sweeter side but some can taste very dry because the acidity is above a certain level.
A fun fact about sweet wines though! The sweetness is usually from the remaining, natural grape sugars. It is rare for the addition of processed sugar.
Thank goodness for that because now I will not go into a sugar coma after drinking my wine and eating my chocolate cake (my favorite combo).