What Dosage Means In The World Of Sparkling Wine

Close up of champagne being poured
Close up of champagne being poured - Dny59/Getty Images

If you've gone to a wine tasting or have an oenophile friend, then you've likely come across wine terms that you don't fully understand or that may even seem overwhelming, such as "body" or "tannins." Another term that you may have heard thrown around is "dosage," which applies solely to sparkling wines like champagne and prosecco.

Dosage indicates the level of sugar that is added toward the end of production before the bottle is corked. The dosage could be measured in added sugar on its own or the amount of sugar combined with the natural sweetness of the wine. Some sparkling wines — notably, Champagne — are naturally quite acidic as a result of the climate in which the grapes are grown. Plus, the acidity only becomes more noticeable as the fermentation process continues. Sugar is added to balance out the flavors and ensure that the end product isn't too acidic to drink, and this balancing act is measured as "dosage."

Understanding dosage will enable you to pick out the sparkling wine varieties that best suit your preferences when it comes to sweetness without the need to sample them all one by one.

Read more: The Best Wineries In The U.S.

What To Know About The Different Levels Of Dosage

Champagne glasses in front of vineyard
Champagne glasses in front of vineyard - Barmalini/Getty Images

There are several dosage levels, and each correlates to a specific label. A sparkling wine that is labeled "extra brut" has either very little (less than 6 grams) or no sugar added. When there is no added sugar at all, the bottle might be labeled "zero dosage" instead. These wines are best for those with very low sweetness tolerances. The next label is "brut," which is the most prevalent level and indicates that between 6 and 15 grams of sugar were added.

Then, there's "extra sec," which has between 12 and 20 grams of added sugar, followed by "sec" with 17 to 35 grams. Both of these land right in the middle of the dry-to-sweet spectrum. Next is "demi-sec," which has 35-50 grams of added sugar, making it quite sweet. Finally, the sweetest category is "doux," which has a minimum of 50 grams of added sugar and can climb much higher.

Now that you know the terms, you can keep them in mind when you're shopping for your next bottle of wine. If you aren't yet sure what sweetness level you prefer, try starting in the middle and branching out from there. Or, if you know you have a major sweet tooth, you can skip straight to a doux wine.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.