Your first step in becoming a wine Jedi is to know exactly what "dry" means because it is often misused. When many people call the wine dry, they're trying to say that the wine's texture feels dry on the tongue (almost dusty), but the term is landing incorrectly.
As far as those of us in the wine biz are concerned, "dry" refers to a wine fermented to dryness. The yeast has consumed the sugar, producing alcohol and CO2.
If you say that the wine in your glass is dry, you're technically saying that it has no sugar. Guess what. Most red and white wines (excluding dessert wines) have no sugar and are dry.
Anyway, you may hear the term “residual sugar” (RS) from time to time, and some of you overachieving winos are already raising your hands to make this point. RS is any sugar leftover after fermentation, which is typically minuscule or non-existent in most table wines. Sugar can be found in higher amounts when a wine is off-dry (slightly sweet) or, of course, sweet.
A more accurate way of commenting on a mouth-drying texture would be to say that the wine is tannic or astringent. "What beautiful balance. The tannins aren't overbearing but have just enough grip."
Tannins coming from the skins, seeds, stems, and oak barrels are what dry out your mouth. Grip is a great word to use by the way, very sophisticated. You might even turn a Brit's head, and we all know the Brits can talk wine better than any of us.
We'll leave you with a winemaker tip from Sarah:
The sensation of tannin grows with each sip of wine, so a good rule of thumb is to start with the least tannic wine and move on from there.