Champagne Sweetness Scale: From Brut to Doux

Champagne and sparkling wine sweetness levels brut extra dry image by Wine Folly
In an attempt to show what Champagne sweetness really looks like, we filled each glass with the actual amount of granulated sugar (in grams).
  • Brut Nature 0-3 g/L residual sugar (RS)

    (aka Brut Zero) 0-2 calories and up to 0.15 carbs for a total of 91–93 calories per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

  • Extra Brut 0-6 g/L RS

    0-6 calories and up to 0.9 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving. A total of 91–96 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

  • Brut 0-12 g/L RS

    0-7 calories and up to 1.8 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving. A total of 91–98 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

  • Extra Dry 12-17 g/L RS

    7-10 calories and 1.8–2.6 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving. A total of 98–101 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

  • Dry 17-32 g/L RS

    (aka Secco) 10-19 calories and 2.6–4.8 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving. A total of 101–111 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

  • Demi-Sec 32-50 g/L RS

    19-30 calories and 4.8–7.5 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving. A total of 111–121 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

  • Doux 50+ g/L RS

    30+ calories and more than 7.5 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving. More than 121 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Brut has a lot of wiggle room in sweetness, whereas Extra Brut and Brut Nature are very focused in their sugar content. So, if you want to keep it on the dry side, opt for Extra Brut or Brut Nature if it’s available.

Champagne Sweetness Levels Illustrated by Wine Folly

Where does Champagne sweetness come from?

the term “Brut” is simply a level of sweetness in sparkling wine. The sweetness comes from a step in the Champagne making process called “liqueur d’expedition” where a small amount of grape must (or sugar) is added before corking the bottle. Because sparkling wine is so acidic, the purpose of the added sweetness is to reduce sour flavors in the wine.

Think of it like adding a little sugar to coffee to “round out” the flavor.

Over time, sparkling wine producers realized that people’s sweetness preference varied and this is why there are several options: Brut Nature has no added sugar and Doux tastes sweet!

How much sugar is in Champagne compared to other drinks?

One of the most fascinating things about wine is how little sugar it takes to make wine taste sweet. If you look at how many grams of sugar are actually in a 5 oz serving (150 ml) glass of sparkling wine, it’s actually quite low compared to other beverages:

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brut champagne sweetness level compared to other drinks

Sugar levels (in grams) in tasty drinks
  • 0g Vodka Soda
  • 0.5g Brut Nature Sparkling Wine
  • 2g Brut Sparkling Wine
  • 8g Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine
  • 14g Gin & Tonic
  • 16g Honest Tea Green Tea
  • 17g Starbucks 2% Milk Grande Latte
  • 20g Margarita on the rocks (made w/ simple syrup)
  • 33g Jack & Coke

So, how come Champagne gives me a headache?

Here are the main reasons Brut Champagne has a reputation for headaches:

  1. You don’t feel thirsty: Drink more water! Carbonation makes you forget your thirsty. Aim to drink at least one glass of water with each glass of wine.
  2. You drink more: It’s easy to drink a whole bottle of Champagne because of its quaffable style. Whereas, a bottle of rich dark red wine is a little more of a slow, arduous process.
  3. You drink later: Sparkling wine goes along with late night entertainment such as New Year’s parties, clubbing and other debaucherous activities. Plus, that hot tub you’re in will also dehydrate you (you sweat in hot water–you just can’t tell).

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly