After the yeasts are removed from each bottle, Champagnes are topped up with sweetened reserve wine, or liqueur d’expedition. The level of sweetness of this wine determines the category of Champagne that will be made. As you will see, categories overlap. A Champagne that is 1.4 percent sugar might be deemed a brut by one house but an extra dry by another.
Despite its beginnings as a fairly sweet beverage, most of the Champagnes now produced are brut. Brut Champagne is best drunk as an aperitif or with a meal. Champagne that is slightly sweet generally works better than brut after a meal. Extra dry is a good example. The wine is not truly sweet in the conventional sense but, rather, simply more round and creamy than brut. Moet & Chandon’s wildly popular White Star Champagne is not brut, as many believe, it’s extra dry.
Dry and demi-sec (half-dry) Champagne, slightly sweeter than extra dry, are extraordinary wine to end a meal with and also unbeatable with fruit desserts. Only a few houses make dry and demo-sec Champagne: Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon, and Mumm are the top three.
Here are the categories of Champagne based on their sweetness:
Extra Brut: Very very dry: 0- 0.6% sugar (0 to 6 grams of sugar per liter)
Brut: Very dry: less than 1.5 sugar (less than 15 grams of sugar per liter)
Extra Dry: Off-dry: 1.2 to 2% sugar (12 to 20 grams of sugar per liter)
Sec: Lightly sweet: 1.7 to 3.5 % sugar (17 to 35 grams of sugar per liter)
Semi-sec: Sweet: 3.3 to 5% sugar (33 to 50 grams of sugar per liter)
Doux: Quite Sweet: more than 5% sugar (more than 50 grams of sugar per liter)