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Sparkling Wine Sweetness Levels


In my last blog I wrote about Sparkling Wine options for your special occasion. When deciding which Sparkling Wine to serve at your event, it is equally important to choose which level of sweetness you desire in your Sparkling Wine. Some factors to consider when selecting the sweetness level:

  • Which Meal Course will the Sparkling Wine accompany?

  • When is the Sparkling Toast planned?

  • Is the Sparkling Wine being served upon guest arrival or during the cocktail hour?

Hosts should give as much attention to what they are pouring in their guest's glass as to what is being served on their plate! For example, pairing a very sweet Sparkling Wine with an elegant, richly sauced entree may cause the meal to have an off-taste and have a negative impact on both the wine and food. Discussing these questions with your event planner or wine professional will ensure you make the right Sparkling Wine choice.

How do Sparkling Wines have sweetness levels?

I wrote in my last blog about a second fermentation in the bottle for Traditional Method Sparkling Wines; this is how the bubbles we love develop. After the wine goes through a period of aging, the bottle is actually opened so that any sediment can be released. It is at this stage that the winemaker can add extra sugar for added sweetness. Depending on how much sugar is added will affect the sweetness level of the wine.

In the Tank Method of wine production (Prosecco uses this method), the sugar is added to the entire batch of Sparkling Wine in the tank. There is also the Partial Fermentation Method. This method is used for making Sparkling Wines like Moscato d'Asti. This process produces wines with low alcohol and high sugar by stopping the fermentation process early.

How do you know what the sweetness level is?

The label on the bottle will give you the answer. In Champagne, the sweetness levels are regulated based on the amount of sugar in the wine. The same terms are used on other wines of the world, but regulations may be a bit different or they may not have any legal definitions at all. Ahhh, the confusing and fascintating world of wines!

Sweetness Level Categories on Champagne and Sparkling Wine Labels (from more dry to most sweet)

Brut Nature (no sugar added)

Extra Brut (very dry)

Brut (dry)

Extra dry (off dry)

Sec (slightly sweet)

Demi-sec (sweet)

Doux (very sweet)

How do I pair my Sparkling Wine with the food/toast at my event?

I can definitely write an entire blog post on this topic alone! There are a number of different pairing approaches and opinions. I believe you want the two to compliment each other, without affecting the taste profile of either. Since we are talking about sweetness levels of wine, it is often best to pair sweet wine with sweet food. At an Anniversary Party I organized, I paired a Moscato d'Asti with a fondant frosted layered cake. I knew that the toast would take place with dessert, so I chose a sweeter style wine with the cake. Another option is to pair spicy foods, such as Thai or Indian food, with a slightly sweet wine. This approach pairs opposing flavors so that the sweetness balances out the spice.

When planning a special occasion, I recommend consulting with your event planner on picking the best wines. Giving this decision as much attention as your menu, cake, entertainment and other details ensures a well executed and memorable special occasion!

Please contact Events by Gayle if you need assistance picking the Sparkling Wine for your next event. I look forward to hearing from you, CHEERS!



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