Often people ask me, "why is Champagne called BRUT?"
And Hamlet is right. Words only signify what we say they signify, and that often changes with the times and like the times.
A case in point are the names, the labels, given to styles of Champagne. Champagne names do not always mean what you might think, and there are reasons for this.
In the 1790s when Champagne was beginning to achieve consistency in atmospheres of pressure because bottles were stronger and corks tied down more firmly, when clarity from lees was still a dream that was being experimented with in all the chalk caves filled with bottles under Reims and Epernay, in this time refrigeration was only as good as your climate, and was, as we know it today, almost a century in the future. For preservation, meats were salted or hung, which gave a pungent or a sweet and rotting smell to larders. And the resulting dishes were powerful in taste. In order to hide over-saltiness or gaminess, sauces were devised that were stronger and over-the-top flavorful and rich. And since Champagne, like all other wines, was meant to accompany meals, though the dosage of sugars added in the liqueur d’expedition as the final cork was put into the bottle was high, the Champagne tasted dry to taste-buds primed by powerful- tasting foods, and was therefore called Sec, which means “Dry.” It tasted dry therefore it was Dry, though it was sweet. “Words, words, words.”
“Words, words, words.”
1810 -1900 1990:
Sec: between 50g of sugar and 32g per litre Demi-Sec: 50g-32g/l
Demi-Sec: between 32g and 17g Sec: 32g-17g
Brut: less than 12g/l Brut: less than 12 g/l
Extra Brut: 6g/0g
Brut Nature: 0g
Personally I like it better the way it was. “Words, words, words.”
Sec, and Demi-Sec, and “Rich” or Doux Champagnes are great dessert wines; Extra- Dry is marvelous with savouries like pates and spicy soups and Asian foods. Whatever Champagne types you consume they become far more than words. They become dreams.
A votre santé!
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne ©
December 8, 2013