Wine Wednesday Wordologie: “D” is for “Dosage”

Wine Wed Word Dosage 1

Happy mid-week, my dears! I hope you have your pen & paper ready because it’s time for another #WineWednesday #Wordologie vocabulary lesson!

Before we get started, I’ve been getting feedback from some of you {thank you–please keep it coming!} that you are really L-O-V-I-N-G this series, and that gives me great joy. It’s a wonderful experience for me to be able to share my love for the bubbly stuff with those of you who adore it as much as I do…well, maybe almost as much as I do. I’m not afraid to admit I’m just perhaps a touch obsessed…you know, just a smidge.

In any case, I promise to keep this series going as long as I know YOU like and enjoy it. So, let’s get on with it!

{© Davon D. E. Hatchett}

{© Davon D. E. Hatchett}

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH DOSAGE?

If you haven’t quite figured it out yet, creating good champagne and sparkling wine is quite a process, with many steps requiring skill, ability, and knowledge. If you’ll remember from a recent Wine Wednesday Wordologie session where we learned about Crémant, there are specific techniques required when producing champagne and sparkling wine made in the champagne style. One of those techniques is dosage.

After the champagne undergoes it second fermentation, but prior to the final corking, dosage takes place.  Dosage increases the complexity of the wines, which add nuances and subtleties to it making it more enjoyable to drink. Dosage softens a wine’s palate; lifts the aromas; make the fruit in the wine more expressive; and creates an overall more harmonious end result.

COME GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’!

While the main function of the practice of dosage is to balance the acidity of the champagne, it can also influences the level of sweetness in the wine based on how much sugar is used in the liqueur d’expédition. Last week’s #Fizz Friday post on Vouvray talked about the varying levels of grams of sugar per liter added to sparkling wine. These sweetness levels are due to dosage: the more sugar used in the liqueur d’expédition, the sweeter the wine will be.

Some of the Champagne houses even purport to have their own proprietary recipes when it comes to creating the the liqueur d’expédition and use ingredients such as vintage champagne, kirsch, cognac, and port wine to the mix. What I wouldn’t give to be in the presence of these champagne mad scientists as they are creating these lovely concoctions!

{image courtesy of TheDrinksBusiness.com}

{image courtesy of TheDrinksBusiness.com}

However, if a champagne or sparkling wine has sugar as the dominant taste then it might be a sign of a poorly made wine. In the early day of widespread champagne production {during most of the 19th century} champagne was made sweet to not only please the palates of drinkers at the time but also to help winemakers cover up flaws in their wine or to disguise poor quality that was the result of using inferior grapes. Veuve Clicquot cellar master Dominique Demarville has stated that “dosage needs a minimum of three months to integrate into the wine otherwise there is a danger the sugar will dominate the taste,” alluding to the fact the practice of dosage requires good wine-making skills and makes a better quality wine.

Today’s more sophisticated champagne sipping palates lean towards drier wine styles so that the flavors of the grapes and wine itself shine through. In fact, there is a “love-it-or-hate-it” trend in champagne right now called “zero dosage” that’s growing in popularity. The wine is exactly what it sounds like–a wine made without adding any sugar. Some people claim that it is drinking champagne in the purest form, and others claim it to be too bone dry and austere to be enjoyable. It remains to be seen whether this trend will last, especially in the US market.

Now that you’ve gotten your dosage knowledge on, it’s time for your “homework:” go to the champagne and sparkling wine aisle at your fave package store and look for a champagne or sparkling wine brand that has several levels of sweetness in their wine; buy 2-3 levels {i.e. 1 “brut” and 1 “extra-dry” or 1 “extra brut” and 1 “demi-sec”}; and do a little sipping to compare {you may want to get a friend or two to help you out with all that bubbly!}. It’s a great way to determine what you like as well as expand your palate. A relatively inexpensive brand to try this with is Jaume Serra Cristalino {a #BubbleistaApproved pick} which has a Brut Nature {no dosage}; Brut; and Extra Dry styles.

What’s your champagne sweetness preference: extra-brut; brut; dry; extra-dry, demi-sec, sec; or doux? Tell me what you’re workin’ with in the comments below!

 

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