Not every winelover knows the degrees of sweetness of the sparkling wines in accordance with international standards, and to complicate matters further, the terms in French or English designated for this purpose do not express in an objective way the true meaning of wines sweetness levels.
So, I decided to write about this topic (not new), to try to help you understand this scale.
The sweetness sensation of any wine is affected by the interaction of a few different factors. Of course, the amount of sugar that is naturally found in wine (or added) plays the most important role, but things like levels of acids, alcohol, as well as tannins, are important too.
The sweetness comes also from a step in the Champagne making process called “dosage” which is when a small amount of sugar or grape must is added back into the wine before corking the bottle. Because sparkling wine is traditionally very acidic, the purpose of this sweetness is to reduce the intensity of tartness. You can think of it like adding a little sugar to coffee to “round out” the flavor.
Over time, sparkling wine producers realized that people’s sweetness preference varied and this is why there are several options. They range from Brut Nature, which has no added sugar, to the Doux which has 50 grams or more per liter of residual sugar.
Nature: less than 3 grams per liter. Also known as Pas dosé or Dosage zéro, it is the driest of the sparkling wines.
Extra-Brut: It is an extremely dry sparkling, which has a maximum of 6g/L of residual sugar.
Brut: One of the most consumed types of sparkling wine in Brazil, with a sugar content lower than 12 g/L.
Extra-dry: 12 to 17 g/L. Despite the contradiction of the term, it is possible to perceive a slight residual sugar in the final sensation of the sparkling wine.
Sec or Dry: 17 to 32 g/L. Confused term where clearly, we perceive a relatively clear sense of residual sugar.
Demi-sec: 32 to 50 g/L. It is equivalent to 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar per 150 ml.
Doux: more than 50 g/L. This degree of sweetness is found in most of the sparkling wines made by muscat grapes in Brazil.