So just what in the hell is dosage? Technically speaking, it’s the final addition to sparkling wine that’s composed of a mixture of cane sugar syrup and wine – thus being the ultimate deciding factor in the sweetness level of the finished wine. Dosage, or liqueur d’expédition, is added to the wine after the bottle has been riddled of its sediment and disgorged, and topping off the amount that was removed. Sounds nerdy, but why is this so important? Though that may seem like a rather technical and straightforward process, dosage has yet another highly crucial part in the production of Champagne and sparkling wines.
On its own, the wine that’s used in the production of sparkling wine is uber acidic on the palate. By adding the dosage, producers are able to steer the wine’s sweetness or merely de-acidify the wine to give it much more cuddly qualities. You will see sparkling wines without dosage added classified as Brut Nature, Brut Zero, Ultra Brut, or Zero Dosage. Progressively being referred to as “Naked Champagne”, these wine nudists are typically left with only 0-2 grams of residual sugar per liter and result in wines that are bone dry to the touch. Oh s#@%, the wine turned out too dry… What do we do now? Well, at this point producers do have the option to save the day by substituting the dosage with some extra bottle aging or slapping on some extended autolysis, aka leaving ‘em on that dead yeast.
These days, more and more Champagne producers are leaning towards dry and are minimizing the amount of dosage used in their production. In fact, some have even chosen to eliminate dosage all together, resulting in a bunch of naked sparkling wines running all over the place. The major reasoning behind it is that producers are looking to create livelier wines with clarity, expressions of fruit flavors, and are looking to accentuate the region’s chalky minerality.
But really, everyone’s palate has its own preference. Some may favor these drier styled sparkling wines with no dosage at all, while others do and probably always will embrace the sweet influence of dosage on their sparkling wines. Personally, I see no reason why not to simply adore both styles.
A different day, a different dosage. Right? 🙂