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Why does my ‘extra dry’ Prosecco taste sweet? – ask Decanter

Ever been confused with the dry or sweetness wording on labels of Prosecco? You're definitely not alone. Here's how it works...

  • Brut is a drier wine than Extra Dry

Ever tried some Prosecco labelled ‘extra dry’ and found it to taste sweeter than you expected?

That’s because the labelling works slightly differently to how we think of the term ‘dry’ for a still white wine, for example.

Prosecco is available as brut, extra dry and dry, in order of driest to sweetest.

If you prefer your Prosecco in a drier style, you want to be looking for ‘Brut’, which is allowed up to 12g of residual sugar per litre.

‘Extra dry’ means it has 12-17g/L, and ‘dry’ can be 17-32g/L.

These levels are set by international wine body OIV and, in the European Union, residual sugar levels are regulated by the European Commission.

So ‘Extra-Sec’ and ‘Sec’ on Champagne and Crémant is the equivalent meaning of Extra Dry and Dry for Prosecco, for example.

It’s best to see the scale as more of a broad guide. Levels vary between wines and the OIV says that it allows a ‘tolerance’ of 3g per litre on its limits for Brut, Extra Dry and Dry.

‘I am not alone in preferring the extra dry style,’ wrote Italian wine expert Ian D’Agata in Decanter magazine.

‘It shows Prosecco’s delicate aromatic complexity and freshness at its best – but Brut examples can be just as delectable.’

But, don’t get confused on a sparkling wine label between ‘extra dry’ and ‘extra brut’. The latter is an indication that the wine is more dry than a typical brut sparkling wine, with up to 6g residual sugar per litre.

In Champagne, there is niche demand for ‘brut nature wines’, which contain up to 3g per litre residual sugar and are sometimes known as ‘no added sugar’.

More about choosing Prosecco

Other variations on Prosecco include ‘frizzante’, which means it’s a slightly less sparkling style.

Most Prosecco is made using the tank method, but some producers experiment with the ‘traditional method’ – performing second fermentation in the bottle – giving more pronounced yeast flavours, in the style of Champagne.

When choosing a Prosecco, Susie Barrie MW recommends to ‘choose DOCG, whatever your budget’.

Editing by Chris Mercer

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