Dosage in Sparkling Wines

What is “Dosage” and what is it doing in my Sparkling?

Festive Season

It’s December and its time for a dosage of the holiday festive season. A time for family get together at the beach, and a time for reflection.  Time to enjoy the fruits of a vignerons hard work, sparkling wines. Traditional sparkling wines are not that easy to produce.

At the family get together, tension can be high so sparkling wine is the answer to calm the nerves. One thing we can all do to arm ourselves by learning a little bit about the wine we’ll be drinking.

If you’re lucky, that’ll involve some sparkling wine or what the French are allowed to call Champagne.

One of the best words you can chuck out there is “dosage” (you can use a French accent if you like.)  Of course, then you need know what it is.

Enjoying Harris Organic Wines
Enjoying Harris Organic Wines

Essentially, dosage is some form of sweetness (sugar, or wine and sugar and brandy) added to a sparkling to balance it the palate structure.

Grapes in the Champagne region have to struggle to ripen so they end up with less sugar to offer the wine. Many European sparklings and Champagnes are aggressively acidic and low in alcohol. The dosage is a simple corrective measure, to either balance the acid or to actually impart some level of sweetness. And depending on the amount of dosage added, you’ll end up with a variety of sparklings, defined by terms that can be a bit confusing but are basically a scale from sweetest to driest.

In Australia’s warmer climate the wines have a higher potential alcohol and less searing acid allowing for more balance and less dosage to balance the palate.

Watch on Youtube: Disgorging Sparkling Wine

Dosage in Sparkling Wine

Here are the recommended dosage for a particular style of sparkling wine.

Doux: 50 or more grams of sugar added per litre. This will taste outrageously sweet to most sparkling wine palates. It’s about 2 teaspoons’ per bottle—but back in the days of yesteryear, Champagne tended to come a lot sweeter. Do you remember the hollow stem glasses with the cube of sugar in the base, exuding the effervescing bubbles to continue? I do.

Demi-Sec: Dosed with 35 to 50 grams of sugar. Again, higher on the sweet sparkling spectrum than most of us are willing to go.  In Australia there are a lot of cheap sparkling with this dosage, namely the Australian invention of red sparkling “burgundies” .

Dry

Sec: “Sec,” in French, means dry. But dry here actually indicates a medium-sweet sparkling. 17 to 35 grams of sugar, on average a teaspoon per litre.

Extra Sec: Literally “Extra Dry,” which would seem to indicate a very acidic wine but here means a bit less sweet than Sec, thanks to about 12 to 20 grams of sugar.

Brut: A mere 6 to 15 grams of sugar added, really for balance in Australia. Slightly rounder than “Extra Brut” because of the increased added sugar, and the type of sparkling we tend to drink most.

Extra Brut: With fewer than 6 grams of sugar added, this may come off with usually a higher apparent acid on the palate and accentuate the carbonation. However with ripe grapes the acid is reduced.

This is the style of modern handmade traditional method sparkling of the Swan Valley.

Brut Nature: For the winemaker to showcase the essential nature (hence the name) of the sparkling wine or Champagne with no sugar added. This is not common, however more common in the the Swan Valley that other regions. Higher notes of minerality and acid, basically a party in your mouth, and everyone’s invited, except sugar!

Enjoy in moderation.

 

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