How to Pick the Right Sweetness of a Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Glasses of Champagne.jpg

The wine world is confusing enough. Then, you find yourself standing on the wine aisle trying to figure out what the different styles of Champagne and sparkling wine mean. And, it’s not straight forward.

Champagne and most sparkling wines will have words on their labels to indicate their sweetness level.

So, here’s your quick guide for choosing the one that best fits your palate:

Brut Nature - This style is bone dry. It has little or no sugar content (0–3 g/L sugar).

Extra Brut This style is also bone dry but, it can have up to twice the sugar level of Brut Nature (0–6 g/L sugar). But, this little bit of sweetness creates a wonderful balance with Champagne’s naturally high acidity.

Brut This is the most common style. While considered “Dry” this style can have twice the sugar of Extra Brut (0–12 g/L sugar).

Extra Dry This is the one that always confuses people. This style is sweeter which actually makes it also taste a bit Fruity (12–17 g/L sugar).

Dry The confusing continues. This style is getting up there in sweetness (17–32 g/L sugar).

Demi-Sec Now you’re talking Sweet (32–50 g/L sugar). This style works well with desserts or cheeses.

Doux This one, while very rare to find, is SWEET (50+ g/L sugar).

Looking for a Sweet Champagne Can Be a Bit Confusing

Champagne is a great drink. It's most often consumed in times of celebration. Champagne and joy naturally go together. But "Champagne" is often misunderstood. And splurging on a $100 bottle may result in disappointment.

First, let's take a step back. Champagne is a sparkling wine that is produced in the relatively small region of Champagne in France. Only those sparkling wines produced in this region are allowed to be labeled as 'Champagne.' 

There are also multiple styles of Champagne produced. It is most common to find Brut, Dry and Extra Dry Champagnes on store shelves.  These styles have a direct correlation with the amount of residual sugar (RS) in them. For those seeking a sweet Champagne, you're going to want to look for 'Dry' Champagne. This is a bit confusing since a dry wine typically has little or no residual sugar and will have no sweetness to it. But, in Champagnes, 'Dry' means that there can be 17% to 35% RS and be quite sweet on your tongue.

Here are all the styles of Champagne that are produced:

  • Extra Brut: 0-6% RS
  • Brut: 0-15% RS
  • Extra Dry: 12-20% RS
  • Dry: 17-35% RS
  • Demi Sec: 35-50% RS
  • Doux: Greater than 50% RS

So if you are looking for a sweet Champagne, look for the 'Dry,' 'Demi Sec,' or 'Doux' designations on the label.

Here's to raising a glass of Champagne at your next joyous occasion. Cheers!