Wine Sweetness Chart

To simplify the concept of wine sweetness, you can compare wines on this chart. Although not all wine conform to the generalizations within, you can still learn a great deal about how to find wine in the sweetness range you prefer.

Wine Sweetness Chart by Wine Folly

Wine Sweetness Chart

Some wines are so dry that they scrape the moisture from your tongue and make the inside of your mouth stick to your teeth. On the other end of the spectrum, some wines are so sweet that they stick to the sides of your glass like motor oil.

NEW GRAPHIC: See more wines listed from dry to sweet.

Why some dry wines taste “more dry” than others

Wine writers have put words to the concept of dryness for years and food scientists have actually studied why some wines taste more dry than others. Both groups claim that aroma, tannin, and acidity are key components to why a wine tastes “dry.”

Red wine sweetness chart by Wine Folly
Red wines have tannin which makes wines taste less sweet than they actually are.

You might be more sensitive to tannin than others

What’s interesting about tannin is that a recent study demonstrated that some people have higher sensitivities to tannin based on the amount of proteins naturally present in their saliva.

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People with more proteins in their saliva do not feel the drying effect of tannin as much as people with less. Another interesting fact is that the taste of tannin is reduced when paired with salty and fatty foods.

White wine sweetness chart by Wine Folly
white wines have higher acidity which can make wines taste less sweet.

Acidity tricks our perception of wine sweetness

Sour counterbalances sweet. A wine that has higher acidity will taste more ‘dry’ than a wine with less acidity. Several producers of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will leave a couple of grams of residual sugar in their wines because the acidity is so high.

Women Smelling a Glass of Red Wine by Wine Folly

Smell “primes” our sense of taste

Our sense of smell also greatly affects our perception of sweetness. As you can imagine, a wine that smells sweeter will also taste sweeter. Wine varieties are often referred to as ‘Aromatic’ because of their sweet floral aromas.

A few examples of this are Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Torrontés, and Moscato.


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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly