Champagne Extra Dry is the term used to denote wines that sit roughly in the middle of the champagne sweetness scale. Despite the implications of the words 'extra' and 'dry', these are far from being the driest of champagnes, having between 12 and 17 degrees of residual sugar. Both Brut and Extra Brut are drier than Extra Dry, and the most extreme is Brut Nature – also known as 'zero', 'zero dosage' or 'non-dose'.
The sweetness of champagne is a key component in the wine's overall qualities, ranking alongside aroma, varietal composition and the fineness/persistence of its mousse (bubbles). Residual sugar – and the secondary fermentation it can lead to – is precisely what brought about the creation of the very first champagne, and is fundamental to champagne production today.
To induce a second fermentation – and to control the eventual sweetness – carefully measured doses of sweet 'vin de liqueur' (usually a mixture of sugar syrup and wine known as dosage) are added to the base wine. The sweetness of the final addition – known as the liqueur d'expedition – dictates whether the wine will be sweet (doux), semi-sweet (demi-sec), off-dry (sec), a little drier than off-dry (extra dry), dry (brut), very dry (extra brut) or bone dry (brut nature). When no sweetening dosage is added at all, the wines are non-dosé or Brut Nature.
The official sweetness levels of champagne are:
- Doux (50+ g/L)
- Demi-sec (33–50 g/L)
- Sec (17–35 g/L)
- Extra-Sec (12–20 g/L)
- Brut (0–15 g/L)
- Extra Brut (0–6 g/L)
- Brut Nature/Zero (0–3 g/L).