So you’ve got a big celebration coming up and it’s time to get the Champagne in.
You’ve worked out how many bottles you need after figuring out how many glasses per bottle, but now comes the even harder part:
Do you get Brut Champagne or Extra Dry Champagne? What’s actually the difference?
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Champagne Brut Vs Extra Dry: Whats The Difference
Brut and Extra Dry are two very common styles of Champagne, so it’s easy to get the two confused.
Very simply, Brut Champagne is a popular dry style of Champagne whilst Extra Dry, despite the name, is actually a slightly sweeter style of Champagne.
Extra Dry will have had a little extra sugar added to the bottle during the making process, making it a little more palatable to those of us with a sweeter tooth.
So are there other levels of sweetness in Champagne? What are the levels of Champagne sweetness?
Champagne Sweetness Levels
So it’s not just Brut and Extra Dry when it comes to sweetness indicators in Champagne. There are whole other levels out there. Let’s take a look at the seven main sweetness levels of Champagne:
1. Brut Nature/Brut Zero/Non-Dosage
Natural by name, natural by nature. This style of Champagne has no sugar whatsoever added to it, making it as dry as Champagne can get.
2. Extra Brut
This category has the smallest amount of sugar added, making it a very dry example of Champagne.
We talked about this one earlier, Brut Champagne contains a very low level of additional sugar that still results in a dry taste.
4. Extra Dry/Extra Sec
This name has confused customers all over the world, for despite being called Extra Dry this Champagne contains noticeable levels of additional sugar.
We’re entering medium-dry territory here with this softly sweet style of Champagne.
You’re really going to start to notice the residual sugar here and sometimes this style can even get paired with desserts.
It doesn’t get much sweeter or sparkling than Doux Champagne!
But is sweetness the only indicator of style in Champagne?
What else should you look out for on a Champagne label to get an idea of its style?
Styles of Champagne
Champagne comes in lots of different shapes and sizes so it can be handy to familiarise yourself with a few of the most common styles of Champagne you might come across.
Here are some of our favourites:
Non-Vintage (NV) Champagne:
This style is very common and is created with consistency in mind, by blending multiple vintages to create a house style.
A special Champagne made to celebrate a special year, by only using grapes from one particular vintage.
Blanc de Blancs
This style of Champagne is all about Chardonnay, using only white grapes in the making process.
Blanc de Noirs
Made only from black-skinned grapes, which in Champagne is commonly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Blanc de Noirs Champagne has lots of beautiful fruity complexity.
It doesn’t get much more decadent than pink Champagne, does it?
Now all of these styles will have varying levels of sweetness, so you will find an Extra Dry Rosé Champagne with a little bit of sweetness, for example, as well as a Brut Blanc de Blancs.
This is why it’s of utmost importance to check the labels when you’re buying.
So with so many styles and levels of sweetness how could you possibly choose?
How Do I Choose Between Them?
How do you choose between Brut Champagne and Extra Dry Champagne?
Well this is why getting to know the sweetness levels comes in handy.
If you like your wine on the drier side then chances are you will prefer Brut Champagne. However if you’re buying for people who have a sweet tooth or two then an Extra Dry Champagne may be a better option.
So how are all of these styles of Champagne made?
How Is Champagne Made: Brut Vs Extra Brut
Champagne is made using something called the Champagne Method, or the slightly more romantic Méthode Traditionnelle.
One of the things that makes Champagne, Champagne is the fact that it undergoes not one, but two fermentations.
A still, base wine is created and then sugar and yeast is added to that wine to encourage a secondary fermentation that creates the fizz that we all know and love.
It is during that secondary fermentation that the option to add to the wine becomes available and this is where some makers choose to add additional sugar to their wine. The amount of sugar added dictates the sweetness level of the Champagne when it has matured.
So an Extra Dry Champagne will simply have had more sugar added during the fermentation process than a Brut Champagne.
But do these different styles require different glassware?
Champagne Glass Styles
You may be relieved to hear that Champagne glasses don’t affect the sugar levels of the wine, so whether you’re pouring a Brut or an Extra Dry Champagne the effect will be the same.
Flutes are designed to keep the bubbles in check and tend to prioritise fizz over flavour whereas coupes may look beautiful but can cause the bubbles to disappear quickly.
A happy medium, which is increasing in popularity, is to serve your Champagne in a white wine glass for a perfect balance of preserving fizz and flavour.
Now that’s glassware sorted, what about food pairings?
Champagne Food Pairings
The dry nature of Brut Champagne makes it a perfect aperitif. Serve with olives and salted almonds, fresh seafood and, if you’re feeling decadent, fried food such as fried chicken.
The slightly sweeter nature of Extra Dry Champagne makes it a perfect pairing for slightly tricker foods such as spicy dishes, aged hard cheese with lots of crystalline complexity and even some fruit based desserts such as tarte au citron.
Remember that taste is subjective and the only person who can decide if a food and Champagne pairing is perfect is you!
Before You Go...
We hope this article answers any questions you may have on Champagne Brut vs Extra Dry.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email us at email@example.com
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