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« Help! I need a (good) white wine under $10 | Main | Make your own damn pizza..Dough! »

17 September 2004

Sparkling Slang

Most of us are intimidated by the scary details of French Wine.

Champagne is no exception.  For example, suppose you see a Champagne on the menu at Le Expensive French restaurant.  You're celebrating a special occasion (oh and by the way; no special occasion is needed to drink Champagne/Cava/Prosecco/sparkling wine) and you want to order a fine bottle of Champagne.

And for kicks, let's say you're a guy, which means you won't ask the waiter/sommelier for assistance.

One Champagne description includes the word, "Brut."
The description of another Champagne includes the words "Extra Dry."

Well, you want to drink this Champagne w/dinner, so you figure Extra Dry is the way to go.

Buzzz.  Wrong Answer.

The terms Brut and Extra Dry describe the relative sweetness (residual sugar) of Champagne & other sparkling wines.

The sweet breakdown:

Brut nature, Brut Zero or Brut Sauvage (.0-.5% residual sugar) should taste bone dry.

Brut  (.5-1.5%) should taste dry with no perception of sweetness.

Extra Dry (1.2-2.0%) tastes slightly sweet and is a style invented for the American market that "talks dry and drinks sweet."

Sec (1.7-3.5%) literally translates to "dry", but is noticeably sweet. No wonder the public is confused!

Demi-Sec  (3.3-5.0%) is very sweet

Doux (over 5.0%) is extremely sweet.

A bit confusing, no?

Actually, the most common style of Champagne is Brut.  Extra Dry is also commonly available.  The other styles are not often seen in the US.

Two to taste for an example of Brut and Extra Dry:

Brut - Nicholas Feuillatte Brut, NV ($30) - A great, classic example of Champagne in the Brut style.  An excellent dinner companion

Extra Dry - Moet & Chandon White Star, (Extra Dry) NV ($30-$40) - Blended specifically for the American sweet tooth/palette.  A definite hint of sweetness makes this bubbly a good aperitif wine


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