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Wine Sweetness Chart: The 5 Sweetness Levels – The Ultimate Guide

Wine Sweetness
There are 5 wine sweetness levels: Dry, Off-Dry, Medium, Sweet, and Very Sweet. Let’s find out more!

Have you ever heard of the Residual Sugar in wine? In simple terms, it’s the sugar left in the wine after the alcoholic fermentation has taken place. The higher the Residual Sugar or RS the sweeter will be the wine. 

The sweetness level of a wine is expressed in grams of sugar per liter, aka g/L, or as a percentage. 10 g/L equals 1% which, if you are interested, represents 6 calories per 5 oz serving. Sometimes this info is available on the wine label.

I’ve prepared the below tables for red and white wines to easily show you what you should expect from the wine you are about to drink. 

Use the table of content below to jump straight to the section. In this article you’ll learn more about:

The highlighted wine name will bring you directly to the wine description, food pairing, and much more! Let’s begin!

Red Wines Sweetness Table

Here is a general red wine sweetness overview to make your life a bit easier. Be aware that the below classification is not written in stone as it depends on the winemaker style. Click on the highlighted wines to access the deep dive.

Dry 
(<15 g/l / <1.5%)

Off-Dry 
(15-30 g/l / 1.5%-3%)

Medium
(30-50 g/l / 3%-5%)

Sweet
(50-100 g/l / 5%-10%)

Very Sweet
(>100g/l / >10%)

Dry 
(<15 g/l / <1.5%)

Off-Dry 
(15-30 g/l / 1.5%-3%)

Medium
(30-50 g/l / 3%-5%)

Sweet
(50-100 g/l / 5%-10%)

Very Sweet
(>100g/l / >10%)

White Wines Sweetness Table

As previously mentioned, this is a general red wine sweetness overview to make your life a bit easier. Be aware that the below classification is not written in stone as it depends on the winemaker style. Click on the highlighted wines to access the deep dive.

Dry 
(<15 g/l / <1.5%)

Off-Dry 
(15-30 g/l / 1.5%-3%)

Medium
(30-50 g/l / 3%-5%)

Sweet
(50-100 g/l / 5%-10%)

Very Sweet
(>100g/l / >10%)

Dry 
(<15 g/l / <1.5%)

Off-Dry 
(15-30 g/l / 1.5%-3%)

Medium
(30-50 g/l / 3%-5%)

Sweet
(50-100 g/l / 5%-10%)

Very Sweet
(>100g/l / >10%)

Sparkling Wines Sweetness Table

For sparkling wines the sweetness level depends on the amount of sugar added during the dosage. The sweetness level classification is different from the other wines we’ve seen so far.

For Champagne the most popular type is Brut with less than 12 grams of sugar per liter, aka g/l. You can though find Champagne across the all spectrum. Find more about Champagne here.

For Prosecco the most popular type is Extra-Dry which has 12-17 g/. You can though find as well Prosecco Brut and Dry. Find more about Prosecco here.

A clarification is need here. A Dry sparkling wine is actually noticeably sweet. It contains in fact between 17 to 32 g/l. If you are after a non sweet Sparkling wine ask for Brut or a Brut Nature.

Here are the sweetness levels:

  • Brut Nature less than 3 g/l.

  • Extra Brut less than 6 g/l.

  • Brut less than 12 g/l.

  • Extra Dry between 12 to 17 g/l.

  • Sec/Dry between 17 to 32 g/l. Despite the name, it’s noticeably sweet.

  • Demi-Sec/Medium Dry between 32 to 50 g/l.

  • Doux/Sweet 50+ g/l. This is the sweetest level.

The Residual Sugar vs the percentage of Alcohol By Volume

There is a direct relationship between the Residual Sugar, i.e. RS, and the percentage of Alcohol By Volume, i.e. ABV. During the alcoholic fermentation, the yeast transforms the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol. Grapes with high residual sugar will therefore produce dry wine with a high ABV.

Does Acidity Alter Our Perception of Sweetness?

Yes, it does! Wine with higher levels of acidity, like white wines, will generally taste drier than wine with lower acidity levels. That’s why some winemakers add some residual sugar to their wine to counterbalance their high acidity. For Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, this is common practice.

What to do next?

Now that you understand wine sweetness it’s time for some wine tasting practice. Our wine testing guide will guide you step by step!

Unsure about which wine to start with? No worries, check out our wine deep dives for inspiration!

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