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Wine Sweet Dry Tasting Chart



A sweet dry wine tasting chart is primarily used for doing a tasting of multiple wines. Your tongue and nose are very sensitive to sweet flavors. If you ate something really sweet - say an ice cream sundae with hot fudge and whipped cream - and then tried to eat or drink something NOT sweet - like a cup of Earl Grey tea - the tea would taste really tannic and awful. On the other hand if you had a fresh palate and picked up the cup of tea on its own, the tea would taste wonderful. The "sweetness effect" has to do with your tongue getting acclimated to the sugar levels of what you are eating. Once your tongue is that saturated with sweet stuff, anything else you eat that is far less sweet is going to taste funny (or bad).

So when you're tasting wines, the standard is to drink from dry (non-sweet) to sweet as much as you can. This isn't an archaic tradition created in days when wines were sealed with pine pitch and wax. It's an actual, logical thing to do based on the biology of your tongue.

So then the question is - what wines are sweeter than other wines? Unfortunately, there is no global answer to this question. Take riesling, for example. Riesling is a white wine which can be made in a super sweet style - Late Harvest Riesling. This is as sweet as liquid ice cream at times. On the other hand, you can also find very dry rieslings which go perfectly with salad. They would be at opposite ends of any sweet - dry spectrum.

Still, you have to start somewhere. This is a GENERAL guideline of where wines tend to fall on a scale from sweet to dry. Many wine labels in modern times now have commentary on the back of the label to indicate if the wine is sweet or dry. Check the label on your wine bottles to get guidance on where those specific bottles might fall in the spectrum to arrange your tasting. If you're still stuck, swing by our wine forums! We'll help you out as best we can.

Also, as a final comment, try to taste wines with whites first, then reds. Reds have tannins in them from the red grape skins. Once you get those tannins on your tongue it can be hard to taste the more delicate white wine flavors after that.

Sweet wines are at the top!

Wine TypeWine flavors
Ice WineIce wine is VERY sweet, lush, tropical
Asti SpumantiItalian bubbly, pretty much always sweet
ProseccoItalian bubbly, usually sweet
PortThick fortified after dinner drink, raisiny
SherryFortified Spanish wine
MadeiraAnother fortified wine, delicious in cooking
MarsalaYup another fortified, super with chicken / veal recipes
Late Harveset RieslingLate harvests are thick and sweet
White ZinfandelThe classic pink sweet wine
Rose / Blushcan be sweet or dry, many are sweet
RieslingRegular white riesling is often on the sweet side
Gewurztraminerflowery, rose, lychee
Viogniertropical melons
Chardonnaycan be buttery and melony
Chenin Blanccan be apply and fruity
Champagnemost Champagne is medium dry to dry
Sauvignon BlancOften grassy and more sharp
Beaujolaislight, fruity, pear, banana
ShirazSpicy and fruity
ChiantiFruity, good with Italian food
Cabernet FrancSoft and mellow
MerlotGentle plum flavors
Pinot NoirJammy
ZinfandelSpicy Peppery
Cabernet SauvignonBlack currant, mint


Sweet Red Wines
Wine for a Sweet Tooth
Dry Wine Term
Sweet Wine Term
Wine Basics Main Page



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