Across the country and around the world, the start of a new year offers many a chance to start fresh and re-evaluate goals. Some folks focus on financial goals, others focus on fitness goals. At Wine & Spirits, we’re going dry this January -- that is, we’re highlighting some of our favorite dry wines and cocktails this month.
Let’s begin at the beginning. We’re talking liquid here, so what in the world does anyone mean by “dry”? When it comes to wine, the term refers to sweetness, specifically the amount of residual sugar left in a wine after fermentation, the process by which natural grape sugars are converted to alcohol. Dry wines generally contain less than 5g of sugar per liter of liquid. It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily translate to wine that feels sour or bitter. Indeed, dry wines can be red, white, or sparkling and have opulent, plush fruit notes.
Things are a little different in the world of spirits. A spirit that has a low water content or one that has been distilled to a higher alcohol percentage, such as whiskey or vodka, is said to be dry. A cocktail can be said to be dry if it has very little sugar. Ready to whet your whistle? Here are some dry gems to check out this January.
The terms Brut Nature and Zero Dosage are used to indicate the driest style of Champagne--with less than 3g/L of wine--and this bubbly is a banger in when it comes to this category. With family roots in Champagne dating back to 1687, Louis Tarlant helped achieve global recognition and legal protection of the Champagne AOC in 1911. Today the winery is run by 12th generation winemaker Benoît Tarlant, and produces classically driven, forward-thinking, organic Champagnes. Representing 70% of the total production, "Zero" is the Tarlant's calling card and consists of a non vintage, no dosage wine made equal parts Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay. To quote Benoît: "Zero is a reflection of the four villages we work in and the goal is to express a Champagne without the external sugar masking the land's characteristics.” Dry and refreshing, with crystalline clarity and beauty, the wine offers notes of baked apple, brioche, hazelnut, chalk, gentle smokiness and dried flowers.
This dry, deeply bold and smoky red is a study in fruit and earth. Monastrell is native to Central Spain and southern France (where it’s known as Mourvèdre and plays a major role in Rhone blends and Provence rosés). A regal purple in-glass, this entry from Telmo Rodriguez is intended to capture the spirit of the Mediterranean, particularly the region of Alicante, which is located between Murcia and Valencia, along Spain’s eastern coast. Bright and juicy, with spicy notes of black cherry and raspberry and a silky smooth attack, there’s so much fruit and complexity, one forgets all about the sugar.
Was a reputation for being saccharine (the 1980s did us wrong in so many ways), Rieslings can be extremely dry and packed with flavor. With about 7.2 g of residual sugar/liter and mouthwatering acidity, Van Volxem’s Saar Riesling is the perfect combination of dry and refreshing. Made from sustainably farmed grapes grown on some of the highest, steepest slopes in the world, the wine is crisp and bright, with a buoyant lively texture and nerve. Lime, peach, and hint of ginger hover just under the surface of mineral driven soil and slate
This dry red has become the calling card not only for Stolpman Vineyards, but for the entire Ballard Canyon AVA. Lively and fresh, the Estate Syrah swooshes out of the glass with a nuance and decadence, with notes of plum, roasted meat, and leather that burst into bright red fruit and spice with a few swirls on the palate. Refined, with an excellent balance, this wine pairs brilliantly with pot roast, ham, and even vegetable lasagna, and will only improve with time.
The Bamboo is a cocktail classic with two great dry spirits at its core: dry vermouth and dry sherry. For a nuttier profile, we suggest an amber-tinged Amontillado sherry. However, Manzanilla is equally delicious and budget friendly.
1½ oz Valdespino “Inocente” Fino Sherry
1½ oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 dash Bittermens Buckspice Ginger Bitters
2 dashes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir for about 30 seconds. Strain drink into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist or skewered cocktail cherry.
Tous Les Soirs
This drink, a variation on the critically acclaimed Ce Soir cocktail, developed by Nicole Lebedevitch of The Hawthorne in Boston, swaps out yellow Chartreuse for Genepy, the Alpine herbal liqueur reminiscent of ski lodges and digestifs by the fire. It’s dry, simple, yet potent and flavorful.
2 oz Maison Surrenne Cognac
¾ oz St. Agrestis Amaro
½ oz Dolin Genepy
1 dash Bittermens Transtlantic Aromatic Bitters
1 dash Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Combine the Cognac, amaro and genepy in a mixing glass. Add the bitters, then fill the remainder of the glass with ice. Stir the mixture until fully chilled, then strain into a chilled coupe or serving glass. If desired, garnish with lemon peel.