Wine Sweetness Levels

Have you ever looked at a bottle of wine in the store and saw the words “dry” or “off dry” and passed on it because you didn’t want anything that would leave your mouth too dry? What about champagne? What are your thoughts when you see extra brut? Wine descriptors are already tricky but when you add in the counterintuitive sweetness scales that can vary depending on the country the wine was produced in, you can end up completely backwards when making a purchase. Here’s a quick guide that you can use to help you on your next wine run.

Still Wine Sweetness Chart

Still wine and sparkling wines, including champagne have different scales for measuring sweetness. The sweetness of still wines is measured from bone dry to very sweet and RS or residual sugar levels of the wine correspond with the scale. Still wines are generally either:

Sweetness Level Amount of Sugar
Bone Dry < 1 gram per liter of residual sugar
Dry 1 – 10 grams per liter of residual sugar
Off-Dry 10 – 35 grams per liter of residual sugar
Sweet 35-120 grams per liter of residual sugar
Very Sweet 72 – 130 grams per liter of residual sugar

 

As you can see, the fact that a wine is dry does not mean that its sugar free. In fact, some wines that are labeled dry have some degree of perceived sweetness due to them having up to 10 grams of residual sugar. For perspective, wines such as Moscato and sweet Rieslings typically fall into the sweet or very sweet category. Port and dessert wines are generally very sweet. Pur Noire’s wines are all bone-dry or dry. However, we’ve got a surprise up our sleeve later this year so stay tuned!

 

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Sweetness

Champagne is measured using a completely different sweetness scale. This wine is measured on a scale ranging from Brut Nature to Doux. Keep in mind that this scale is applicable to champagne but not necessarily all sparkling wines. All champagne is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is champagne because only sparkling wine made in France’s Champagne region can be called Champagne. While this is true, there are two American producers that can call their sparkling wine Champagne but that’s a discussion for another time. The measuring scale for Champagne is below:

 

Sweetness Level Amount of Sugar
Brut Nature 0-2 grams per liter of residual sugar
Extra Brut 0-6 grams per liter of residual sugar
Brut 0-12 grams per liter of residual sugar
Extra Sec 12-17 grams per liter of residual sugar
Sec 17-32 grams per liter of residual sugar
Demi-sec 32-50 grams per liter of residual sugar
Doux 50 grams per liter of residual sugar

 

The scales vary a bit for sparkling wines made in other countries. Take Italy for example. Wines like Prosecco and Lambrusco may be measured different. Again, these are sparkling wines but they are not champagne so you may see these wines use the following scale:

 

Sweetness Level Amount of Sugar
Extra Brut 0-6 grams per liter of residual sugar
Brut 0-12 grams per liter of residual sugar
Extra-sec 12-17 grams per liter of residual sugar
Sec 17-32 grams per liter of residual sugar
Demi-sec 32-50 grams per liter of residual sugar
Dolce 50+ grams per liter of residual sugar

 

Confusing stuff right? Well, now you have a guide! Good luck and cheers!

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