The Champagne Sweetness Scale Explained
Champagne is made from grapes, and like any fruit, the variety and the ripeness will affect the overall taste. In fact, it’s the sugar in the grapes that makes the fermentation process possible, as the sugar converts into alcohol through yeast.
As grapes are grown, they produce sugar. The longer they are left on the vine, the sweeter the grapes become. This will then impact on the flavour, and whether it’s more on the bitter or the sweeter side.
The 7 Types Of Champagne
Champagne runs on a scale that can be split into 7 categories. You’ll notice that the category names (such as Brut) are often listed on the bottle to guide you. Here’s an overview of what to look out for.
Sugar Content: 0g-3g
Brut nature contains the least amount of sugar compared to other champagne types. It does not have any added sugar, hence the ‘nature’ term. This variety is incredibly dry yet acidic, making it more of an acquired taste unless used as a base rather than consumed on its own.
Sugar Content: 0g-6g
Slightly sweeter is extra brut. It’s still a very dry type of champagne but isn’t as extreme as a brut nature.
Sugar Content: 0g-12g
Brut is the French word for ‘unsweetened’. It’s almost halfway on the champagne sweetness scale, but still lacks a real kick of sweetness. Though, given it can range up to 12g it is possible to find brut varieties that are on the sweeter side.
Sugar Content: 12g-20g
Extra sec is the first category that moves away from the very unsweetened tasting varieties. Perfect if you want a slightly sweet champagne that retains some of that earthiness.
Sugar Content: 17g-35g
The word ‘sec’ means ‘dry’ in French. However, demi sec champagne isn’t on the dry side like brut. Instead, demi sec is incredibly sweet. There is some confusion because of the terminology used to describe a wine which can easily catch you out when buying champagne, so be sure to remember this. That’s why going off the sugar content can give you a much better idea of whether it will be bitter (dry) or sweeter.
Sugar Content: 33g-50g
An incredibly sweet variety of champagne that usually features added sugars to top up the sweetness even more.
Sugar Content: 50g+
Doux is the sweetest of all the champagne types.
Which Champagne Type Should You Choose?
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing champagne. While champagnes with a low sugar content might seem too bitter, they are actually very well suited when used with other tipples. For example, when making a mimosa or a buck’s fizz, a key ingredient is orange juice which is very sweet. Therefore, you need champagne that isn’t as sweet to balance it, otherwise, the finished drink would be far too sweet on the palate.
Middle of the road (where the sweetness scale is concerned!) champagnes such as brut and extra sec are excellent for toasting with. They work beautifully with appetisers too, or for consuming at the end of a meal such as during a wedding speech.
Extremely sweet champagnes are equally enjoyable, but work best on their own rather than mixing them with other drinks or even desserts. It’s all a question of preference, as some people enjoy a drier, bitter taste and others prefer something much sweeter.
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We hope you’ve found our guide on the champagne sweetness scale useful. It can certainly be confusing, especially given ‘sec’ means dry, and when sec is used to describe champagne, it actually means it is one of the sweetest types!