Demi-sec Champagne isn’t popular. Let’s just get that out there. For those of you that might be wondering, “demi-sec” literally means “half dry”. Demi-sec Champagne is thus a half dry – that is, somewhat sweet – Champagne. While Champagne is the world’s finest sparkling wine, the majority of its production is focussed on dry styles, mainly the Brut style.
How is demi-sec Champagne made?
All Champagne is made using the so-called “traditional method”. This is a long, time-consuming process that costs money and is very labour intensive. Dry Champagne and demi-sec Champagne are made in the same way, until quite late in the process with the addition of a sugar solution known as the “dosage”. The lower the dosage, the drier the wine will be. It is quite common today to see Champagne producers making “zero dosage” wines, that have no sugar whatsoever.
Demi-sec Champagne is permitted to have between 32 and 50 grams per litre of sugar. This is considerable, when you think that Brut Champagne can have no more than 12 grams per litre. Despite its name meaning “half dry”, demi-sec Champagne has quite noticeable sweetness, and would stand up to most sweet desserts. Perhaps this highlights why this style is not so popular today.
Why isn’t demi-sec Champagne more popular?
Champagne is a consumer product, and Champagne houses have long listened to the needs and wants of the market. These are historic producers, yes, but they’re also multi-million euro businesses. They focus their energy and resources on what their customers want, and evidently that is not sweet Champagne
Demi-sec Champagne and other sweet styles – such as sec and doux – are very much a niche market. Even the world’s finest and most popular sweet wines, such as Sauternes, occupy a relatively small share of the overall wine market. Some people like wines with high sugar content, but many don’t. While most consumers will be happy to drink a dry wine, many will be physically turned off by a sweet wine. These are practical, commercial considerations and they can and do affect the production of demi-sec Champagne and other sweet wine styles. Even in Sauternes, many producers have started to push dry styles of wine as the sweet wine market is so tough.
Is demi-sec Champagne the only sweet sparkling wine?
No. The demi-sec Champagne is also used in producing some French crémant, and even producers of Cava can sometimes produce sweet styles. Italian Moscato d’Asti is a particularly popular style of sweet sparkling wine.
Try MdO Moscato de Ochoa for a decidedly Spanish take on the sweet Moscato d’Asti style.
Food pairing with demi-sec Champagne
Food pairing with sweet wine can be difficult. Food pairing with sparkling wine generally is a different story, and most dry sparkling wine is very versatile with food. Sweet sparkling wine, however, is a different story. If you’ve got your heart set on serving a demi-sec Champagne with food, try one of the following:
Demi-sec Champagne with foie gras. The sweetness and acidity will cut through the fattiness of the food, providing a very nice balance.
Demi-sec Champagne with spicy Asian food. This creates an interesting balance of flavours that will actually be greater than the sum of its parts!
Demi-sec Champagne with cheesecake or other sweet dessert. Aim for a dish that is as sweet as the wine, and enjoy!
Do you like to drink demi-sec Champagne? Tell us about your favourite bottles in the comments below!