What's actually in that bottle of bubbly? 

By Melanie Fincher
October 23, 2020
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All of life's best moments call for Champagne: holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings, and more. But for so many of us, picking out a bottle of Champagne can come down to which one has the prettiest label, instead of the words on the label. Brut, Extra-Dry, Doux — what do these terms mean?

Keep reading to learn all about the most popular Champagne there is: Brut Champagne. And learn how it's different from other types of Champagne so you can pick the right bottle for your tastes and food pairings. 

What Is Brut Champagne? 

Like all Champagnes, Brut Champagne is made from the grapes grown in northeastern France, otherwise known as the Champagne province — simple enough, right? Well there are actually a number of classifications within the Champagne category to complicate things.

Champagne is classified by sweetness. Brut, which means "dry, raw, or unrefined," in French, is the driest (meaning the least sweet) classification of Champagne. To be considered Brut, the Champagne must be made with less than 12 grams of added sugar per liter. Brut Champagne is the most common style of sparkling wine. 

Credit: Liz Banfield/Meredith

What Does Brut Champagne Taste Like?

Because of its low sugar content, Brut Champagne is going to be quite dry, with just a slight hint of sweetness. Like all Champagne, it is a white wine that's light-bodied and highly acidic. Brut Champagne may have hints of floral, fruity, or almond notes, but it will be less perceptible than other types of Champagne, as it's less sweet. 

Brut Champagne vs. Extra-Dry Champagne

So here's the confusing part: Extra-Dry Champagne (sometimes referred to as Extra Sec) is less dry than Brut Champagne by one classification. Despite its name, Extra-Dry Champagne is actually sweeter than Brut Champagne, as it contains more added sugar, between 12 and 17 grams per liter. 

While Extra-Dry Champagne is sweeter than Brut Champagne, it is not as sweet as Dry, Demi-Sec, or Doux — the latter of the two are often served as dessert wines. 

Brut Champagne Food Pairings and Uses

Brut Champagne, being highly acidic and dry, cuts through rich and fatty flavors like those of buttery seafood dishes (especially lobster), cheesy dishes, pasta, or risotto. And of course, you can use traditional Brut Champagne for a myriad of bubbly cocktails and punches, like these 3-ingredient Champagne cocktails. Browse our entire collection of Champagne drinks here.   

Related: Champagne 101