It’s time to celebrate and that calls for champagne! But, which one? How do you tell which are sweet and which are less sweet from the label? By using the champagne sweetness scale!
Because, while picking the prettiest bottle in the refrigerated section of the store is a fine way to select your bubbly, did you know that champagne’s flavor varies dramatically based on how much sugar is used to produce it?
There are seven champagne sweetness levels from Brut Nature to Doux and whether you want a sugary sparkling wine or a dry one, you can use the list below to help you find one for you.
Oh, but first… one obligatory note about champagne: champagne must come from the Champagne region of France to be champagne — at least, if you’re a stickler for stuff like labels. Otherwise it has to be called prosecco, cava, sparking wine, or sekt.
But the French have no jurisdiction over us, at least insofar as what we call stuff — except when it comes to making out — so we’re using champagne in the generic, it-tastes-the-same-so-just-call-it-what-it-is way. Sacre bleu!
Just How Sweet Is Your Champagne?
We’ve ranked the different categories of bubbly on the champagne sweetness scale from least sweet to most sweet. We’ve also included a recommendation for each so you can get to popping those bottles!
1. Brut Nature or Brut Zero: 0-3g/L
Brut Nature or Brut Zero is the driest champagne out there. This means that Brut Nature is the least sweet of the champagnes, containing less than 3g/L of residual sugar.
It’s bone dry. Dryer than Death Valley. Most champagne is given a dosage, which is added sugar, before bottling. But not Brut Nature. It tastes fresh, slightly acidic, and bubbly. You can taste bubbles, right?
Billiecart-Salmon Brut Nature Champagne, $54.99, available at Drizly.
Extra Brut: 0-6g/L
Extra Brut has less than 6g/L of residual sugar, and is considered medium dry. That’s because it gets a small dosage, but not enough that you taste the sweetness. Dryer champagnes are gaining more popularity around the globe, so hop on this trend and you can claim you knew about Extra Brut back when it was just Kinda Brut.
Finca Flichman Extra Brut, $12.10, available at Drizly.
When it comes to champagne, those labeled Brut actually have a smidge of added sugar. But they’re still considered dry, since they have less than 12g/L of residual sugar. (Brut comes from the French word for raw because it lacks sweetness.)
You’re likely familiar with Brut, since it makes up a large percentage of the champagne sold and, presumably, drank. Veuve Clicquot, La Marca, Cristal, and Dom Perignon all fall into this category.
Veuve Clicquot Brut, $59.99, available at Drizly.
Extra Dry: 12-17g/L
Extra Dry, aka Extra Sec, is the Joe Jonas of the bunch, right in the middle of the sweetness scale. Despite the misleading name, Extra Dry is not nearly as dry as Brut, and has 12-17 g/L of residual sugar.
You should be able to detect some sweetness in an Extra Dry bottle of champagne. It also has some fruity undertones, which we’re counting as one of our daily servings of vegetables.
Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry, $12.99, available at Drizly.
Sec (Dry, Seco): 17-32g/L
Sec, or Dry, champagnes have 17-32 g/L of residual sugar, which means they’re moderately sweet. And by “moderate” we mean “noticeable” not conservative in disguise.
Paloma Rosè Secco, $16.99, available at Drizly.
Demi-Sec isn’t the sweetest of the bunch, but it is pretty close. Demi-Sec champagnes have 32-50 g/L of residual sugar, making it pretty sweet, but not necessarily overwhelming. It’s versatile and pairs well with dinner or as a dessert wine. Or with dessert, provided your dessert is pasta.
Soufflè Sparkling Demi Sec, $24.95, available at Drizly.
Doux champagnes have 50+ g/L of residual sugar. Doux was the most popular style of champagne in the 18th and 19th century, but is now rarely produced. This stuff is Candy Land sweet, without the sharp edge of competition.
Veuve Clicquot Rich Champagne, $69.99, available at Drizly.
Champagne Sweetness Scale by Category
||How Much Sugar Does It Have?
|Brut Nature or Brut Zero||0-3g/L|
|Demi-Sec or Semi-Sec||32-50g/L|
|Doux or Dolce||50+g/L|
If you want your own press for champagne button, you can get one at the House of Golightly!