A California wine with 3 percent residual sugar would be considered:

A. Sweet enough to be considered a dessert wine

B. Technically dry

C. Perceptibly sweet

D. Late harvest


There are no official global guidelines on what constitutes a sweet wine, although some appellations and styles of wine may have local standards that wine producers must abide by in labeling their wines. That said, for most people, a wine with 3 percent residual sugar would have some perceptible sweetness. In many parts of the world, such a wine would be referred to as “off-dry.” A wine is generally considered dry if it has less than 0.5 percent residual sugar although again, there are no strict guidelines. Some winemakers would say that a wine has to be less than 1 percent residual sugar to be considered dry, and others would say less than 2 percent. Most wines that you’d have for dinner would be 0 to perhaps 1.5 percent residual sugar. To place things in perspective, Port generally has about 7 percent residual sugar; Sauternes, 10 to 14 percent; German trockenbeerenauslesen (TBAs), as much as 30 percent. And hello Coke fans, colas clock in at about 11 percent residual sugar.

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