Sparkling Wine: Where Extra Dry is not really extra dry

By Kori ~ December 17th, 2008.

More than any other time of year, this is the season for bubbly. There are just so many opportunities to enjoy sparkling wines during the holidays. Whether you are looking for an aperitif to enjoy before Christmas dinner, celebrating your team’s big win in a bowl game, or ringing in the New Year, a good bubbly hits the spot.

20081217_sparklingRight now, your local grocery stores, wine shops, and liquor stores all have prominent displays of sparkling wines to enjoy for the many upcoming celebrations. Glancing at such a display on a recent trip to QFC, I saw a bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry which made me remember the days before I embarked on my wine education and wrongfully assumed that Extra Dry meant that the wine was literally extra dry, drier than what would normally be considered dry. Much to my surprise I discovered that Extra Dry is actually sweeter than Brut (the dry standard for sparkling wines). It occurred to me that many of you may be in the same boat that I used to be.

So here’s a list of traditional sparkling wine terms to understand before you head to the store this holiday season:

Brut nature, sans dosage — no sugar added
Extra brut — extremely dry (less than 0.6 percent sugar)
Brut — dry, the most common style (less than 1.5 percent sugar)
Extra dry, extra sec — off-dry (1.2-2.0 percent sugar)
Sec — slightly sweet (1.7-3.5 percent sugar)
Demi-sec — sweet (3.5-5.0 percent sugar)
Doux — very sweet (more than 5.0 percent sugar)

For specific suggestions of sparkling wines to try, check out my recent Wine Tasting Dinner: Sparkling Wine post.


Filed under: General Wine Information, Sparkling Wine

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