The most prevalent opinion regarding wine and cocktails amongst the people I know relates to sweetness. “I like sweet wines.” or “I don’t want something sweet.” Those opinions are facile because there is a lot more to your perception of “sweetness” than you might think. Such as, what you pair the wine with or how sugar is balanced in a cocktail. My husband’s favorite sparkling wine is Mumm Napa Cuvée M. I love it too. Mostly because it is so distinct. The nose and the taste take me right back to the terrace at Mumm Napa. Cuvée M happens to have a slightly sweet dosage which is why I suppose Andrew enjoys it so much.
There are so many steps to making sparkling wine and it seems boring to start from the beginning. Lets’ address the dreaded sweet vs unsweet. We will learn about dosage. Dosage is basically liquid sugar that is added to the champagne just before corking to create sweetness. The grapes for champagne grown in France produce very acidic wine. The wine becomes even more acidic during second fermentation in the bottle to produce the bubbles that inspired this blog. The dosage balances this acidity. The dosage determines how sweet the final product will be. This is the basis for extra brut, brut, extra sec, etc.
Extra brut is essentially no dosage. Brut is the smallest amount of sugar added and is probably the most popular style. And so on, in order of increasing sweetness based on grams of sugar in the dosage: extra sec, sec, demi sec. Sec actually means dry in French. Extra sec or demi sec can be found at some well equipped grocery stores or wine stores. These are wonderful to pair with spicy foods such as Thai curries or blackened fish.