When it comes to white wines, the majority of the most popular styles in the world are considered to be dry. While dry wine contains low levels of residual sugar, the fruit characteristics and flavors of certain white wine grape varietals produce flavorful wines that contain sweet flavors.
There are hundreds of thousands of white wine producers in the wine world today, and there is a handful with long-established reputations for producing high-quality dry white wines.
We will take a look at what makes up the best dry white wine brands, and recommend a few to try for yourself.
Dry White Wine Overview
Dry white wine is the most popular style of white wine around the world today. While all dry white wines contain low levels of residual sugar, there are a broad variety of different styles and taste profiles. Understanding these basic elements is key to choosing the correct bottle.
Dry vs Sweet Wine
White wine can vary from bone dry to extremely sweet and luscious depending on a variety of factors such as growing climate, wine grape varietal, and winemaking style. The majority of white wines available on the market today can be categorized as dry.
Sweet white wines are nearly always categorized as “dessert wines,” and include popular styles such as Icewine and Tokaji. These dessert wines contain high levels of residual sugar, which is a result of the concentration of grape sugars by removal or separation of the water content.
Dry white wines contain fairly low levels of residual sugar and vary in quality from table wines to high-end bottles that auction for thousands of dollars. There are many different styles of dry white wine available on the market today, ensuring a proper fit for all palates.
When it comes to dry white wines, acidity levels play a major role in determining the taste profile and overall balance of the wine. Certain white wine grape varietals contain naturally low or high levels of acidity, and winemakers work to impart a balanced amount into the finished wines.
When balanced correctly, the proper amount of acidity in a “racy” white wine can entice the palate, causing increased salivation in the back of the mouth and an overall pleasant tasting experience.
Certain wine grapes like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are well known for providing high levels of fairly strong acidity in finished wines, while “softer” wine grapes like Chardonnay and Muscat contain fairly low levels of acidity.
The amount of body in a given glass of wine refers to the amount of “weight” or “thickness” perceived on the palate. Light-bodied white wines are just as light on the palate as a glass of water, while thicker full-bodied white wines are much more significant.
White wines with a thick and full body include famous examples like some of the best-selling California Chardonnays. These full-bodied dry white wines are thick in body due to a mixture of the naturally thick Chardonnay grape with oak aging.
Oak aging in white wines sometimes kicks off a process called malolactic fermentation, where the wines being aged take on thick and creamy body characteristics. These full-bodied white wines are often referred to as “creamy” or “buttery”.
One of the biggest factors in determining how the palate will perceive the taste of a given dry white wine is the aromas that the wine gives off. Certain styles of dry white wine contain moderate levels of aromatics, while others smell very strong.
One of the best examples of aromatic dry white wine is Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. These “zippy” white wines contain strong aromas of grapefruit and peach, leading to an intense depth of flavor that is coveted by many wine enthusiasts.
Strong aromatic characteristics in a glass of white wine can add flavors that are perceived on the palate to be sweet or fruity while containing low levels of residual sugar.
This is due to the fact that the senses of taste and smell are more closely related than any other.
The strength of a bottle of red wine can either refer to the concentration of taste or the level of alcohol contained in the bottle. For the most part, dry white wines that are higher in alcohol will also be stronger in taste.
Wine grapes that are grown in cooler climates tend to have lower levels of sugar compared with those grown in warm weather conditions. Sugars within a wine grape determine the finished taste of the wine, as well as the alcohol levels.
Dry white wines can vary greatly when it comes to alcohol content, and the least strong wines can contain levels as low as five percent. The strongest white wines can contain elevated alcohol levels as high as 14 percent.
Five of the World’s Best Dry White Wine Brands
With so many different producers releasing new labels of dry white wine every year, it can be difficult for some wine enthusiasts to cut through all the noise and find a quality bottle.
Here are five of the world’s most famous and trusted quality brands of white wine for reference!
- Very popular and critically acclaimed bottle of Chardonnay
- A quintessential representation of California Chardonnay
- Tasting notes of oak do not overpower the rest of the wine
- To thick and “creamy” for fans of light-bodied white wine
- California style of Chardonnay is not for everyone
Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay is one of the most popular and highly regarded bottles of Chardonnay from California’s famous Sonoma wine region. This is considered a full-bodied dry white wine due to the oak aging and resulting malolactic fermentation
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
- Available all over the world in restaurants and retail shops
- Fruit aromas of grapefruit lead to quality and balanced tasting notes
- Light-bodied and easy to drink on a warm day
- Some wine enthusiasts don’t like the strong citrus aromas
- Not full enough in the body for some palates
The South Island of New Zealand is a well-known powerhouse when it comes to producing high-quality bottles of dry white wine year in and year out.
Cloudy Bay has become world famous and emerged as the most recognized producer of the country’s most popular style of wine.
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio
- Readily available at restaurants and retailers worldwide
- Quality bottle at an affordable price
- High levels of acidity make for a food-friendly wine
- Not enough layers of flavor for some wine enthusiasts
- Some prefer higher-end bottles of Pinot Grigio
Santa Margherita is a mass producer of Pinot Grigio that offers a solid bottle of the famous white wine grape for a very reasonable price.
This is one of the most widely distributed bottles in the world and is available nearly everywhere mass-produced wine is sold.
- Affordable bottle that fits the budgets of nearly all wine enthusiasts
- Readily available at major retailers and wine shops
- Very consistent taste regardless of the year produced
- Not enough layers of flavor for more complex palates
- California style of heavily oaked Chardonnay is not for everyone
Kendall-Jackson is one of the largest producers of Chardonnay wines in the entire state of California. This is a mass-produced dry white wine that is well regarded for its simplicity and consistency of flavor year to year.
La Caña Albariño
- Light-bodied and fresh bottle of wine
- Fantastic summertime wine to be enjoyed outdoors
- Easy drinking wine that is sure to be a crowd pleaser
- Not enough layers of flavor for those who love acidity
- Mineral heavy flavor profile is not suitable for all palates
La Caña Albarino is one of the most famous battles of the Albarino wine grape from the world-famous Rias Baixas region of Spain. This light-bodied white wine is high in minerality, making it a fantastic option for food pairing with a variety of dishes.
Best Dry White Wine Brands – Conclusion
There are a number of different factors that make up a high-quality bottle of dry white wine. Some of the best and most consistent brands of dry white wine in the world are made by larger producers and are readily available at retailers all over.