What are the different sweetness levels of Champagne?
The above question is one that I get asked a lot at the shop. More specifically, people often ask not once, but twice, “is it dry?” or “is it brut?
Understandably, the stylistic breakdown is not the most intuitive one. I for one, always get Extra Dry and Dry mixed up. Here is a quick breakdown of the 6 styles of Champagne and what to do with them:
Extra Brut / Brut Zero/ Zero Dosage :
0-6g/liter residual sugar
Extra Brut = Bone dry, seriously austere, like 0% body fat. Great for some, not enough sass for others.
What to do: Pair with fresh oysters, sevruga caviar, a whip, kidding.
5-15 g/liter residual sugar
Brut = Dry..although not as strict as a no dosage champagne. This category is what you’ll most often see in retail wine shops and restaurants.
What to do: More food friendly, versatile and with a little more “flesh” than zero dosage champagnes.
Extra Dry /Extra Sec:
12-20g/liter residual sugar
Extra Dry = Medium Dry.
Confusing? Absolutely. You would think that this would come before Brut, but NO..
Got it? Don’t worry, you will not encounter this style too often, especially in the US market.
17-35 g/liter residual sugar.
O.K., even more counter intuitive, I know.
Sec/Dry = Medium Sweet.
Once again, not a style that you will encounter as often in the United States, however there are delicious wines being produced in this style.
35-50g/liter residual sugar
Demi-Sec = Sweet.
However, due to the incredibly high levels of acidity found in Champagne, this sweetness is never syrup-y or unctuous, but rather delicate and almost ethereal in nature.
What to do: these sweet treasures with blue veined cheeses or Asian inspired (less sweet) desserts like the Slanted Door Restaurant’s toasted rice crunch with salted cream.
50+ g/liter residual sugar.
This style of Champagne is rarely produced today. Often difficult to find in the United States, although there are probably some killer old vintages hanging out in the cellars of Champagne just begging to be discovered!