What Is Sweet Champagne?

What Is Sweet Champagne featured photo

Champagne is known for its dry, crisp character, but here’s the twist—sweet champagne is also a thing. Blame it on the dosage. It forms the residual sugar, which remains in the wine during the final stage of the champagne-making process.

So, what is sweet champagne? How much sugar is in it?

To be considered sweet champagne, it should be sweeter than Brut. Doux and Demi-Sec champagnes are sweet given their higher sugar content.

Sounds straightforward but there’s a whole spectrum of that for different styles of champagnes. In this post, we’ll get into the sweet details of how each champagne style, from the driest to the sweetest, tastes on the palate. We’ll also go over the different things to consider when picking out sweet champagne.

What Kind of Champagne Is Sweet?

Historically, champagne contained much more dosage. But In the modern day, they are made to be ‘dry.’ According to Forbes, Brut or dry champagne makes up more than 90 % of all Champagnes. Even Extra Brut and Brut, which are considered on the sweeter side, have added sugar barely noticeable on the palate.

The sweetest champagne is Demi-Sec and Doux. Both champagne styles are high in residual sugar content with Doux at over 50 g/L and Demi-Sec at 32 to 50 g/L. However, keep in mind that these champagne staples are still on the less sweet side compared to other sparkling wines such as Prosecco and Sekt.

How Do You Know if a Champagne Is Sweet or Dry?

How Do You Know if a Champagne Is Sweet or Dry

Just look at the label.

Does it say Brut, Extra Brut, Sec, Demi-Sec, or Doux? These are indications of champagne sweetness levels. Some Champagne Houses may not specify or disclose such details in their bottles, though, so ask your retailer.

Champagne is made from a blend of different grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir. It’s easy to assume the fruits make the wine sweet if you’re not familiar with how a sparkling wine is made, from the growing in the vineyards to the bottling.

However, in general, champagne is not sweet. The grapes are gently pressed right after harvest and the juice goes through a fermentation process. During this stage of champagne production, the winemaker adds yeast to the wine, which feeds on the residual sugar from the grapes, making the wine ‘dry’ with less residual sugar.

A winemaker can inject small amounts of liqueur d’expédition or ‘dosage’ into the wine to add some sweetness. It’s usually the final step in the winemaking process after disgorgement and before corking.

The dosage is measured in grams per liter (g/L) and the winemaker determines how much sugar the champagne needs based on its specific characteristics and desired flavor profile.

Different Styles and Dosages of Champagne

Champagne is available in different styles and dosages to accommodate every palate.

As I’ve mentioned above, a winemaker may choose to add whatever amount of dosage is needed, depending on the characteristics and desired flavors of the champagne. They are also added to create different categories of champagne based on EU regulations.

The dosage of liquid used can vary. But it’s typically just beet sugar or a wine ‘liquor.’ Sparkling wine with a lower dosage will be on the drier side of the champagne sweetness scale and is more acidic. Sweet sparkling wine has a higher dosage but is less acidic.

The table below shows the amount dosage for each champagne style.

Champagne StyleDosage (grams per liter)What It’s Like on the Palate
Brut Nature0-3 g/Ldriest; typically has zero sugar
Extra Brut0-6 g/Lbone dry but slightly sweeter
Brut0-12 g/Lhas detectable sweetness but can be free of sugar
Extra Dry (extra secco)12-17 g/Lhas a hint of sweetness and can get sweeter with a higher dosage
Dry (secco)17-32 g/Loff-dry
Demi-Sec32 to 50 g/Lhalf-dry or candidly sweet
Douxover 50 g/Lthe sweetest of the bunch

Important note: The sugar added doesn’t necessarily make the wine sweet—it’s why they call it the “final touch.” Cellarmasters will meticulously scale the quantity of dosage to the amount of natural acidity in the champagne to achieve the right balance of flavors.

Things To Consider When Buying Sweet Champagnes

Of course, the sweetness level of the champagne would be the first thing to think about. But there’s more to the amount of sugar in the bottle.


How sweet do you want your Champagne to be?

Understandably, not everyone can tolerate the dryness of certain champagne styles. But if you want your drink to have just a hint of sweetness, go for Brut champagne. It has a very subtle touch of sweetness but not overpowering at all. Extra brut is even slightly sweeter.

Those are the safe and sweet spots, however, if you’re leaning towards the sweeter side, go for Doux or Demi-Sec champagne.

The Mouthfeel

A good champagne will give you that soft yet crisp sip every time. The best sweet champagnes offer a more robust and nice creamy mouthfeel on the palate.

The Fizz

For true connoisseurs, the smaller the bubbles, the better. And a good quality sweet champagne should have tinier orbs than large ones. You should be able to experience the ideal sweetness and buoyancy in your mid-palate.

Well, there’s really no way to find out which champagne ticks the box of our criteria. And when it comes to taste, it’s always to each their own. If you ever get a chance to visit France and do cellar tours and wine tastings.


Is Champagne Supposed To Be Sweet?

Champagne is generally dry, however, the taste can vary. The sweetness or dryness of the wine depends on the dosage intended by the winemaker. Some may have a tad bit sweeter taste than others, however, they are not typically considered sweet champagne.

Is Rosé Champagne Sweet?

Not necessarily. Unlike other traditional champagne, rosé has a more powerful and bolder flavor but is generally less sweet. Champagne rosé is made from a blend of the three grape varieties, but they can differ in sweetness from dry to medium.

Key Takeaway

That final touch of dosage can make a difference in the flavors of your champagne. But remember that the sugar added to the wine only balances out its acidity. Less sugar means more acidic. More sugar means less acidity. So, at the end of the day, the “sweetness” is merely a bonus (if that’s your palate, of course).

We hope you’ve found this post helpful. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out and I’ll be more than happy to help. Cheers!