How sweet is your sparkler?

Did you know most sparkling wines have a 7 point scale that measures their sweetness. “Dry” for example, means kinda sweet in the wine language. The sweetness comes from a step in the sparking wine method called “dosage” which is when a small amount of sugar or grape is added back into the wine before corking the wine. Because sparkling wine is traditionally very acidic, the purpose of this sweetness is to reduce the intensity of tartness. But different people want different things, so wine producers have adjusted the sweetness in order to suit their customer needs.

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  1. Brut Nature/Nature Herb/Ultra Brut/Brut zero

0-3 grams of sugar per litre: As dry as it can get without being overpowered by acidity. It could also be considered the ‘diet sparkler’ in the category due to such a low amount of sugar.

  1. Extra Brut/Extra Herb

0-6 grams of sugar per litre. Slightly more balanced than the previous category.

  1. Brut/Herb

0-12 grams of sugar/litre: As sweet as it takes to remain balanced but it’s not a sweet wine. Ideal as a pairing option or a casual sipper.

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  1. Extra dry Extra Sec/Extra Seco/Extra Trocken

12-17 grams sugar per litre. Although the name insinuates a wine that’s not sweet, this one is slightly sweet. It has a more pronounced fruity character.

  1. Dry/Sec/Seco/Trocken

17-32 grams of sugar per litre. Dry actually means sweeter on this peculiar scale. Just imagine 1 gram sugar per 30ml.

  1. Demi Sec/Demi Seco/Halbtrocken

32-50 grams sugar per litre. These wines are very fruity with undertones of apricot, lychee and peach balanced with toast and citrus notes.

  1. Doux/Dolce/Mild

50+ grams of sugar per litre. Just imagine that in a can of Coke there are 39 grams of sugar, so add another 11 and you have that amount of sugar in a bottle.

Who knew there were do many variations of sparkling wine? Prosecco, on the other hand, likes to keep it simple; it only has three: Brut, extra dry and dry. Pretty straightforward really. Keep in mind though, that due to the different secondary fermentation method, which is simpler than the traditional method Champagne undergoes, the fruit is more forward. This may emphasise the sugar, which will make a dry Prosecco sweeter than a dry Champagne.

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