what is the driest red wine

What Is The Driest Red Wine? Know the Facts – 2024 Update

Wines come in all various styles and flavors. Finding your favorite is going to take some time and lots of sipping. One of the wines you must try is a dry red. So you may now be wondering, what is the driest red wine?

The driest red wine for most producers is Cabernet Sauvignon. Another great option for a very dry red wine is Merlot. Both of these wines have very low residual sugar and a dry flavor profile.

Let’s look deeper into the world of dry red wines!

What Makes a Wine Dry?

Saying dry wine as a description may be confusing since most people will think of this in a different context. At first, it may be associated with a sensory nature, so wines that create a dry feeling with a sip. While that is an important part of wine-drinking, it actually has to do with wines that are high in tannins and not dry.

“Dry wine” is actually used to describe the makeup of the wine. Dry wines have only some to no residual sugar content. So, these wines are technically not sweet wines. This doesn’t mean that dry wines don’t have any sweetness at all. Other components in the structure of the wine, such as tannins and alcohol levels, also play an important part in the overall flavor and aroma of a wine.

When wine is being made, grape juice goes through a fermentation process where yeast consumes the sugars already in the grapes. This forms carbon dioxide, which plays a role in the creation of alcohol content. To make sweet wines like Gewürztraminer, winemakers must end the fermentation process before all the residual sugar is consumed by the yeast. Winemakers that make dry wines let the yeast eat all of the sweets until there isn’t any residual sugar left.

Selection of red wine on wine tasting. Dry, semi-dry, sweet red wines in special wine glasses on old wooden table background. Copy space

Dry red wines are very popular among wine lovers as they can be paired with a whole range of foods and provide an excellent sensory experience while drinking! Additionally, dry red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Zinfandel are also very popular in cooking.

Author Note: They’re loved by wine collectors and investors due to their major aging potential. These wines are easily stored in a wine cellar, and if proper storage conditions are maintained, they will taste even better after a few years.

The age-worthiness of dry red wines are attributed to the very high tannin levels.

In fact, these tannins in dry red wines are the same as those in dark chocolate and green tea.

Now let’s take a look at the different dry red grape styles.

The Different Dry Red Grape Varieties and Styles

The majority of dry red grape styles and varieties have originated in France but are now grown all over the world.

Bordeaux-Style Dry Reds

Bordeaux wines are usually tannic with a complex aroma of dark fruits. They’re a mixture of flavors such as stone fruits, tobacco, and dark cherries. Many of these wines age nicely because of the high levels of tannins, and they match well with steak and other meats.

Although this style of grape originated in Bordeaux, they are also now grown in California, South America, and Tuscany.

These grape varieties include:

Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemakers make hearty tannic wines with the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. This grape is usually mixed with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and many other varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon wines are complex and bold with notes of olives, black cherry, and black currant. As already mentioned above, Cabernet Sauvignon is the answer to the question of what is the driest red wine.

This wine is grown all over the world, from California to Australia. It is known as a full-boded, dry tasting wine, often referred to as having black currant, blackberry, or cedar flavors.


Merlot is made in two distinctive styles. The traditional Bordeaux wines are made with early harvested grapes to preserve the acidity. These wines have a medium body and red fruity flavors. The New World Merlot wines have a full body with an inky purple color and blackberry fruit tastes.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is a grape style used for mixing with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot but also tastes great on its own. These wines have floral, dark, and fruity notes.


The Malbec grape style is originally from France but is now one of the most popular grapes grown in Argentina. It has a deep dark red color, a high tannin level, and black cherry/spice notes.

Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is used to make Bordeaux blends; it can also be found as a standalone wine. These wines have violet and spice notes.


The Carménère grape variety comes from Bordeaux but is now mostly growing in Chile. The wine made using these grapes has notes of spice, cocoa, and black fruits with slight aromas of green bell peppers.

Pinot Noir

Pinot noir isn’t always known as one of the driest red wines but it does have a light to medium body and dry taste. Most would consider it a more versatile or widely enjoyed wines than some of the other dry red wines listed in this article. Pinot Noir doesn’t have the same tannins as most red wines, particularly the driest red wines which typically leads to it have a fruitier taste. However, it should still be talked about briefly when discussing dry red wines.

Rhône-Style Dry Red Wines

Wine class in the black background

Rhône-style wines are made using Syrah, Grenache, and some other grapes grown in the French Rhône region. These styles of wines have a very distinct variety of aromas, such as nutmeg, cherries, and stone fruits. Rhone-Style wines can be enjoyed young, but many of them have good potential to age, depending on their levels of tannins. You can pair this dry red with game meats, cured meats, and poultry.

Aside from the Rhône region, these grapes can also grow in other regions, like Australia, California, and Spain.


Grenache is almost always blended with other grape styles such as Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. It’s a very popular wine grape in Australia and Spain.

Top Tip: If you wish to enjoy a fruity and ripe wine, then buy a Grenache wine from a warmer region like Southern France or Spain. You will surely love the distinct flavors of cherry and spices with some hints of earth. Grenache is also used to make sweet wine blends as well as rosé.

Syrah or Shiraz

Syrah, or Shiraz, is a very versatile red grape sort. Depending on where it’s harvested, it can produce different wines that are fruity and light or even thick and spicy. Syrah from cooler regions tends to be medium to full-bodied and has high tannin levels. These also have flavors of blackberry and tobacco with a hint of earth. The Syrah wines produced in warmer climate regions are more jammy with fewer tannins and hints of baking spice and licorice.


The Mourvèdre grape variety comes from Spain and has powerful blackberry and black currant flavors. Mourvèdre is used to make red blends with Grenache and Syrah in France.


Cinsault comes from Southern Rhône and grows best in regions with warmer climates. It makes for a light and fruity wine, so it’s the perfect grape sort for red blends with Grenache.

Burgundy-Style Wines

The main red grape used in Burgundy is Pinot Noir, which is one of the most planted varieties in the world. Pinot Noir is perfect for foods such as duck, salmon, lamb, and mushrooms. Pinot Noir that is outside of France can be found in:

  • Oregon
  • California
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Italy
  • Chile
  • Germany
  • Switzerland

Pinot Noir wines are light to medium bodied with notes of black cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. So, if you want something less tannic and light, then this is the wine for you.

Despite being on the softer side, Pinot Noirs have the potential to age. The flavors turn more creamy and complex with notes of earthiness and spices as the wine ages.

Other Dry Red Wine Grapes

Some other dry red grape favorites are:


The Nebbiolo grape style grows in the Italian Piedmont region. Prestigious wines like the Barolos and Barbarescos are made using this grape. These wines are very popular among beginner wine lovers and collectors.

Nebbiolo wines have high levels of tannins and acidity, along with great aging potential. Over time these wines start to develop complex and rich flavors of licorice, truffles, and rose.


The Tempranillo grape sort originates from Spain. Winemakers use this grape to produce many fine Spanish wines, in a red blend with Grenache and also as a standalone. These grapes can play a role in producing sweet wines such as Port.

Tempranillo wines are aged using barrels where they get an oak aftertaste mixed with hints of leather, smoke, and red plums.


Wine glasses on the background of the bar

These grapes mainly grow in Piedmont, Italy, with a robust black fruit flavor. Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba are the most prominent Barbera wines.

Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah comes from France but has quickly become super popular in California, Argentina, Chile, and Australia. These wines are darker with flavors of blackberries, spices, and pepper.


Author Note: Zinfandel is a very famous grape variety in California, but it is originally from Croatia. Zinfandels have a light body with flavors of red fruits and strawberries. These notes make this wine easy to drink.

Apart from dry reds, Zinfandel can also be used for making a dessert wine.


The Sangiovese grape variety is characteristic of the Italian Chianti region. Sangiovese wines are medium bodied with aromas of plums and cherries followed by a tart finish. This wine is best paired with food (meats, pasta, and spicy food) rather than alone.

How To Store The Driest Red Wines

Storing your dry red and white wines in the correct circumstances will help when it comes time to enjoy it with family and friends.

  1. Keep the dry red wine in a cool, dark place. Ideally at a temperature between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit (7-18 degrees celsius) to keep the wine as fresh as possible and limit the oxidation. Keep away from sunlight or varying temperatures.
  2. Horizontal storage – consider purchasing a wine rack to hold however many red and white wines you have.
  3. Wine has a sneaky way of absorbing the smells and aromas that surround it. With that in mind, keep any strong smelling items that might impact the flavour of the wine away from it.
  4. Lastly, if you feel like taking step 2 to another level you can consider getting yourself a wine fridge. Depending on the size of your wine collection, having a trustworthy wine fridge to keep your collection optimal is a no brainer. Keeping them fresh and flavorful!

How To Serve The Driest Red Wines

Serving the various dry red wines listed above is a key step in getting the most enjoyment out of the wine.

  1. Ensure that your selected red wine is served at a slightly cooler temperature than the room. Typically between 60-65 degrees farenheit (16-18 degrees celsius).
  2. Decant the dry red wines in order to aerate and ultimately bring out the flavors to the max.
  3. Utilize a large bowl for the dry red wine as it allows the wine to breath and release all of it’s aromas.
  4. Optional: If you’re eating while enjoying the various dry red wines, ensure that you pair the selected wine with the appropriate food. Typically speaking, drier red wines will pair well with hearty meats like steak or lamb. But anything rich and savory will work nicely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is drier, Merlot or Cabernet?

Cabernet Sauvignon is considered to be the dryer of the two red wines. Compared to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon has higher levels of tannin, giving it a drier mouth feel. Although Merlot also has significant levels of tannin, it tends to be less dry on the palate. 

Which is drier Cabernet or Pinot Noir?

Like with Merlot, Pinot Noir’s tannin levels are not as intense and apparent as Cabernet Sauvignon’s, making it the drier wine. Pinot Noir’s tannin levels are low in comparison. 

What is a good inexpensive dry red wine?

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Zinfandel are all popular, inexpensive red wine varieties. Bottles of these wines are easy to find in the 10 to 20 dollars USD range.

Wrapping Up

Red dry wines are very popular among wine lovers for a reason. These are very versatile and delicious, pairing well with a whole range of dishes. So next time you are picking out a dry wine for your dinner party, search for one of the styles we recommended today. We hope you enjoyed this article on what is the driest red wine.

Finding your favorite dry red can be a long process, but it will surely be worth it. This is our toast to your happiness and health!

To living a full-bodied life,


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