When you’re checking out champagne or other sparkling wines, you often see the words like brut, extra dry, or demi sec on the bottle. If you’re like the majority of the world, you have no idea what any of this means. Today, we’re going to change that by walking you through the definitions of each as well as what it really means in terms of flavor.
All of these terms are measures of sweetness in sparkling wine. When we talk of sweetness, we’re actually talking about the grams of sugar in each liter of wine. Wines labeled extra brut are wines with less than 6 grams of sugar per liter. These wines are going to have so little sugar that some people may find them to be a bit tart. Taking one step up the sweetness ladder, we move to brut. Brut wines have up to 12 grams of sugar per liter and pair very well with most foods.
After brut, we begin to move into the sweeter wines with the extra dry classification. Extra dry wines have a slight sweetness to them, with up to 17 grams of sugar per liter. While some extra dry champagnes still pair well with most foods, the sweeter ones tend to be better aperitifs. After extra dry, we move to sec (aka dry). Sec is a wide range with 17 – 32 grams of sugar per liter. These wines are definitely best as aperitifs.
Finally, we move to what I consider the dessert champagnes. The first is demi sec. Demi sec sparkling wines have 32 – 50 grams of sugar per liter. For those of you keeping score, that 3 to 5 times more sugar than a brut! These are definitely sweet wines that are going to pair well with dessert. The final rating, which is quite rare in the wild, is doux. Doux is very sweet champagne with more than 50 grams of sugar per liter. If you ever see this stuff, try it once so you have experienced it, then never drink it again.