Champagne may seem easy enough to classify—is it bubbly? Then it’s champagne. But unless you’re simply using champagne to craft your mimosas, the sweetness of your champagne is a major factor in determining how much, and when, of the bubbly to serve. Here is a range of champagnes according to their sweetness (primarily measured through how much sugar is added to the beverage after fermentation).
Brut Nature: Extremely dry with no added sweetness (this does not mean no sugar, just much less).
Extra Brut: Some added sweetness to balance out champagne’s natural acidity.
Brut: The most popular type of champagne. Extra sweetness ads body to the beverage, but the acidity is balanced out so that you can’t really taste it.
Extra Dry: The added sweetness becomes more apparent at this level. The champagne takes on a fruity nature.
Dry: Richer body and texture are benefits of dry champagne, although the fruity taste can be a turnoff for some consumers.
Demi-Sec: The sweetness here makes demi-sec champagne an ideal dessert pairing, but this is the point where a sugar high would be a concern if a customer is drinking glass after glass.
Doux: A rare dessert wine that goes well with creamy pastries, but would not be the right selection for a chocolate dessert.
Sweetness is only one determining factor in categorizing champagne. Others include style, of which there are three majors:
Blanc de Blancs: Made with 100% white grapes—primarily a chardonnay.
Blanc de Noirs: Made with 100% black grapes—usually a pinot noir.
Rosé: Made by blending blanc champagne with a red wine, usually a pinot noir. The ratio tends to be 90% white, 10% red.