Sweet or Dry?

Sweet or Dry

The subjective sweetness of a beverage is determined by the interaction of several factors, including the amount of sugar, but also the relative levels of alcohol, acids, and tannins. This is a very confusing subject for many as there is no one standard.

For the purposes of my discussion and reviews, I generally use the actual residual sugar levels of the product to describe dry or sweet. As sensory evaluation plays a role, I do apply subjective measures as I see fit.

These are the residual sugar standards used in Canada today (except in Quebec).

Grams of sugar per litre
Very dry 0-5
Off-dry 5-25
Medium 25-45
Sweet 45-65
Very sweet 65-105+

In contrast Quebec standards are quite different.

For effervescent alcoholic beverages:
Grams of sugar per litre
Brut 0-30
Medium Dry 30-50
Semi-Dry 30-50
Sweet 50 or more

For still alcoholic beverages having an actual alcoholic strength of not more than 15% by volume:
Grams of sugar per litre
Dry 0-25
Sweet 25 or more

For still alcoholic beverages having an actual alcoholic strength of more than 15% by volume:
Grams of sugar per litre
Dry 0-30
Sweet 30 or more

When appropriate I will note this difference in a review. For example I may consider a beverage off dry that is labelled dry. In this case I will say so. Ultimately it is up to you to decide.