After drinking or shopping for champagne and bubbly or even sparkling wine for a while, you will notice a very common word – brut. This is not the name of a brand or company. In fact, brut is the French word “dry”. Brut indicates the level of sweetness in sparkling wine. In the step before corking the bottle, champagne producers will add a small amount of sugar before corking the bottle.
Champagne is actually sparkling wine made in the French region of Champagne. It can only be called champagne if it is made there.
Brut levels in champagne
Sugar is added to champagne to reduce sour flavours in the wine as champagne is usually very acidic. There are different options for champagne as humans’ sweetness preferences are different.
The amount of sugar in the champagne can either make your glass taste like sweet nectar or bone dry.
There are few levels of brut – from brut nature to doux. Doux is just an indicator for the level of sweetness in the champagne bottle. It takes very little sugar for wine to taste sweet.
According to Wine Folly, there are 7 levels of Brut which are:
- Brut Nature (bone dry): 0 – 3 grams per litre
- Extra Brut (bone dry): 0 – 6 grams per litre
- Brut (dry): 0 – 12 grams per litre
- Extra dry (fruity): 12 – 17 grams per litre
- Dry (off-dry): 17-32 grams per litre
- Demi Sec (sweet): 32 – 50 grams per litre
- Doux (sweet): 50+ grams per litre
If you like your champagne dry, get brut champagne but if you like it sweet, get champagne that is a doux, as stated on the label of the bubbly’s bottles.
Taste and Flavor Profile of Brut Champagne
Brut is normally dry and the sugar adds a certain amount of sweetness to it. However, because there are so many varieties available, every brut wine tastes different.
Although champagne is always aged, you will notice that there is a fresh floral, nutty, or bready note on the nose. Some may give out an aroma of bright fruit like apple or pear. Brut champagne is not as fruity as compared to some other sparkling wines. However, you may still notice notes like citrus, stone fruit and quince.
Some bottles also exhibit a lightly savory note.
Brut champagne is a popular choice for toasts and celebratory occasions because it tends to be rather well-balanced and silky.
To understand the taste of sweetness, you can refer to the following:
- Brut Nature (also called Brut Naturelle/non dosage: Bone dry as no sugar is added
- Extra Brut: Very dry
- Brut: Very dry to fairly dry. This is the most common style of champagne
- Extra dry: Dry to medium dry (or medium sweet)
- Dry: Medium dry. It’s right in the middle of the scale
- Demi Sec: Pretty sweet!
- Doux: Sweet tooths will love it. It is dessert level sweet
Follow the above guide for sweetness in your champagne and we doubt you will go wrong.
Brut Champagne vs. Extra Dry Champagne
As you may have already figured out, champagne is made in a full spectrum of styles. From bone dry (brut naturelle) to extra dry to doux, there is such a large variety!
Brut means “dry, raw, unrefined” in French and it only refers to champagne bottles that has less than 12 grams per liter.
This will result in the taste of champagne not particularly sweet, or in other words – dry.
However, extra dry champagne is usually sweeter than brut. Sugar levels usually fall between 12 to 20 grams of sugar per liter.
We understand the terms can be rather confusing so read on for more tips to buying before making a purchase!
Buying tips for brut champagne
Wine shops, liquor stores and certain restaurants usually carry brut champagne. To ensure that you are buying the right products, look for the words “brut” and “champagne” on the label of the bottles. Keep in mind sparkling wine can come from many parts of the world but only champagne is made in France.
The quality of brut tends to be high as rules and regulations for this type of champagne is quite stringent. Therefore the price tends to be higher.
If you cannot afford brut champagne, you may also try buying dry cava instead. Cava is a type of sparkling wine made in Spain. You can also try dry prosecco. Another option to replace brut would be American sparkling wine from Northern California.
If all else fails, go for the iconic brands such as Dom Perignon or Cristal for high quality brut champagne. You can also try Moet & Chandon or Krug. They are known for their long history of producing high quality brut champagne.
How are brut wines and champagnes made?
Before corking the bottle, there is a champagne making process called “liqueur d’expedition”. This is where champagne producers add a small amount of sugar.
As sparkling wine, without the sugar, tastes very sour since it is very acidic, adding the different amounts of sugar is what reduces the acidity and the sour tastes. Of course, as time passed, champagne producers found that different people have different preferences when it comes to sweetness, do not be surprised if you find a large range of brut in champagnes.
Think of adding sugar to the bottle as the same as adding sugar to coffee. Some people like to add sugar and some people prefer it black. It is the same with champagne!
How to serve brut?
Like all the types of champagnes, there are certain steps to take in order for you to best enjoy brut. Brut tastes best when it is nice and cold!
To get full enjoyment from your bottle of brut, leave your bottle of champagne in the fridge for at least three hours. You can also pop it into an ice bucket that is filled with ice and water.
In order to keep it nice and cold, pour your bubbly into champagne flutes. Champagne flutes are shaped in a way whereby the long stems of the flutes prevent the drink from being warmed by your hands. Hold the stems!
If you are drinking straight from a bottle, it is best to keep the bottle on ice in between sips from it. You do not want lukewarm bubbly.
Food pairings with brut
There are plenty of food types to complement the dryness of your sparkling wine.
As it has slight hints of sweetness, brut champagne pairs beautifully with cheese and fatty meats. This is because it helps to balance salty meals with the touch of acidity. Seafood dishes also go well with brut.
Brut champagne will usually go well with fried food such as fried potatoes, ham and swiss quiche as well as oysters and smoked salmon. You can also pair it with cheese!
Brut is also commonly used in champagne cocktails. Other ingredients will add to the sweetness, which will play against the dryness of brut very nicely on your palate.
Brut Champagne and Headaches – Why?
Brut champagne actually has a reputation for causing headaches. However, there are several reasons for the said headache that are actually the main cause. Don’t blame it on brut just yet.
A few reasons for the headache after drinking brut may be:
- You need to drink more water
Although you do not feel thirsty, that may not be so. Drink a glass of water with each glass of sparkling wine as a general rule.
Because of the bubbles and carbonation, the body tricks you into forgetting that you are thirsty. Drink up (but also drink water)!
- You are drinking a lot of brut!
You can easily consume a whole bottle of champagne. Usually champagne is drunk at a happy, fast pace during celebrations so you may be unaware of how fast you are drinking the sparkling wine.
Compared to a glass of red wine which is usually slowly enjoyed, be a bit more wary about how fast you are swallowing the brut. Slow down a little and enjoy the taste of bubbly too.
- You drink later at night
Champagne usually goes along with late night parties and entertainment. Clubbing, welcoming the New Year and celebrations late into the night are where champagne is usually drunk.
This may also be a cause of that headache due to the lack of sleep and it is better not to blame it on the brut!
Brut is an ideal sparkling wine to drink if you really enjoy sharp sensations on your palate with a hint of sweetness. Remember that brut means “dry” and is not a type of grape or wine. Serve your brut cold and pair it with salty meals for the best enjoyment! Although you may be partying hard, it may be because of other factors that you have a headache and not because of the brut. So drink safely, whilst enjoying the bubbly sliding down your throat!