You may be surprised to discover that Prosecco is available in 6 different sweetness levels, from the fairly new classification (for Prosecco) of Brut Nature, the driest, to the sweetest style Demi-Sec. The International Sparking Wine Scale is applicable to most sparkling wines including Champagne, Cava and English Sparkling Wine. However, not all sparkling wines are made in every classification – that depends mainly on if there are rules governing the category, on the winemaker or the suitability of the grape.
BRUT NATURE (also known as Brut Zero, Ultra Brut, Pas Dosé or Dosage Zéro), 0 – 3 g/l of residual sugar, is bone dry to your taste. It is the driest of the Prosecco and sparkling wines.
EXTRA BRUT, 0-6g/l of residual sugar, is very dry to your taste.
BRUT, 0-12g of residual sugar, is dry to your taste.
EXTRA DRY (also known as Extra Sec, Extra Seco), 12-17 g/l residual sugar, is medium dry to your taste (dry with a hint of sweetness).
DRY (also known as Sec, Secco), 17-32 g/l residual sugar, is medium sweet.
DEMI-SEC (also known as Semi-Secco), 32 – 50 g/l residual sugar, is sweet. The sweetest Prosecco, though not commonly available.
DOLCE (also known as Doux), 50+ g/l residual sugar, is very sweet. The sweetest of the sparkling wines, though Prosecco is not available in this sweetness.
Don’t worry if you are confused by the classifications, as you’re not the only one. They really are confusing. The most common surprise during my consumer events is always the revelation that ‘Extra Dry’ Prosecco isn’t actually extra dry! Prosecco labelled as ‘Extra Dry’ is sweeter than Brut. If you prefer your Prosecco dry to your taste, then you need to look for Brut, Extra Brut or now Brut Nature. ‘Dry’ is even more confusing as it’s not what you would consider dry, it’s sweeter to your taste.
So why do we have such confusing classifications? Furlan, one of my Italian wineries, explained to me that years ago when the scale started, it began with ‘Dry’ which at that time was considered dry to your taste. Years later, a sparkling wine was made with less sugar and labelled ‘Extra Dry’. So those 2 classifications together make sense. However, since then more classifications have been added as we became better at making wine with less (and more) sugar. So now, the classification names do not really make sense. Allegedly, we need to blame for the French for that! Ha ha.
Many consumers also think Prosecco is all the same and therefore has the same sweetness. Some people think that Prosecco is too sweet and that’s probably because they are drinking the sweeter styles.
Typically, the mass produced Prosecco tends to work better in Extra Dry, which is the most commonly style available. This is because there is a little extra sugar to improve the taste which without, it could taste quite sharp or fairly tasteless. (Just like when you add sugar or salt to a dish). The better drier Proseccos, with less sugar are often of a higher quality made by superior wineries, such as the artisan wineries I work with namely, Cirotto, Ca’Salina and Furlan. These wineries are in prime locations to produce top quality grapes, pay extra attention to their vines and processes, resulting with a premium end product that doesn’t need extra sugar to cover up any possible imperfections in quality as their grapes are first class. There is also a skill in making a great ’elegant’, well balanced sweeter Prosecco.
Should you like to try a selection of the different sweetness levels, the Prosecco Superiore Discovery Box is recommended. This mixed case features Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry and Dry Prosecco from Cirotto, Ca’Salina and Furlan wineries. I hope to add a Brut Nature Prosecco to the range soon too.
So next time you hear someone say Prosecco is too sweet, perhaps you can enlighten them!
Owner of Just Perfect Wines