“Wow! That’s DRY!!!” (and why “Extra Dry” really means a little sweet…)

A lot of casual Champagne and sparkling wine drinkers will tell us they only like REALLY DRY wines (without telling us that their reference point is the Extra Dry Cuvees of the large houses which are actually fairly sweet). This may seem counter-intuitive but it has a fun historical explanation:

Most Champagne was originally VERY sweet (that is how the French and especially Tzarist Russian clients liked it). The Brits started asking for drier wines. So, the Champenoise gave them Demi-Sec (half dry but, of course, half sweet), Sec (meaning dry compared to the norm but still quite sweet), Extra Dry (drier but still with significant dosage of sugar) and, finally, when the Brits said: “Listen, when we say DRY we really mean it!”, they created Brut (which means savage or barbarian in French as that is what they thought of the requests).

So, Extra Dry really means a little sweet, got it? BUT, Extra Brut, Sans Dosage, Brut Nature, Brut Zero and other such descriptors REALLY mean DRY. Such bottlings will shock the casual sipper but are DIVINE with spicy, salty, oily snacks like Oysters, Smoked Salmon, Prosciutto and, courtesy of a friend of ours in Georgia, our favorite Champy Snack of all time:

Popcorn popped in Duck Fat and then sprinkled with fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a little fresh black pepper. Mmmmm Mmmmm Good (thanks Bob!)…. Now, Ladies and Gents, it’s back to our program!