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 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. Dry wines can be red, white, or sparkling and have opulent, plush fruit notes.
Ready to whet your whistle? Here are some dry gems to check out this January.
Lighter-bodied and more perfumed, Cabernet Franc reaches its apex in the Central Loire Valley in the vineyards surrounding the villages of Bourgueil, Saumur and Chinon, which is where this entry from Olga Raffault calls home. On the palate this organic wine is full, dry, and complex, with a core of lovely red and black fruit, supple tannins, tilled earth notes, and excellent balance that make it perfect for everyday entertaining.
This fresh, snappy red hails from Austria’s far eastern edge in Burgenland, where Lake Neusiedl and the Leitha mountains wrangle for influence. High-toned, and incredibly expressive, the wine offers ripe black cherries on the nose, leading notes of black and Morello cherry, ginger spice, and punchy minerality. This wine is incredibly fun, perfect for a cool evening or picnic with friends, grilled poultry and red meat and fun salads.
When people talk about wines as being "gems," they talk about wines like this gorgeous, brilliantly colored, dark and savory red from Gerardo Michelini, with the help of his wife Andrea Mufatto (formally the winemaker at Gen del Alma), and their talented son Manuel. Made from biodynamically farmed Mencía, the nose is expressive and floral, with notes of smoke, dark berries, and herbs. Tannins are fine and balanced, backed by minerality and a lingering finish that make it especially easy to drink.
Located in France’s Languedoc region, Picpoul de Pinet is one of the few regions named after the grape varietal that is most common there. In the past the grape was not known to create anything special, but thanks to modern vinification and the passion of vignerons, Picpoul has become a fave among wine drinkers. This refreshing white is crisp and delicate, with notes of ripe apple, hay, tropical fruits, white and yellow flowers, and crushed oyster shell. A perfect everyday white wine.
With a reputation for being saccharine (the 1980s did us wrong in so many ways), Rieslings can be extremely dry and packed with flavor. The Wiltinger lends itself well to the Riesling experts as well as newbies, as it greets both with a burst of ripe orchard fruits like apricot and peach and follows with a layer of subtle nuttiness reminiscent of apricot kernel oil. The stony minerality will make you feel like a favorite pupil of Demosthenes who put pebbles in his mouth to hone his oratorical skills. This is good because you will definitely want to tell your friends about this!
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. The Tarlant family has roots in Champagne dating back to 1687. In fact, Louis Tarlant helped achieve global recognition and legal protection of the Champagne AOC in 1911. The winery produces classically driven, forward-thinking, organic Champagnes like this vibrant zero dosage brut. Dry and refreshing, with crystalline clarity and beauty, the wine offers great texture and richness that makes it perfect for any occasion.