What does the sparkling wine term "brut" mean?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is “brut” a Champagne?

—Gina, Lagos, Nigeria

Dear Gina,

Kind of! If you ordered a “brut” (pronounced “brute”), chances are you’d end up with a glass of bubbly in your hand. But more specifically, brut is a type of sparkling wine, referring not to the grapes or where they were grown, but to a style, based on how sweet it is.

How sweet is a brut? Not very—it refers to one of the driest, crispest styles out there. Think of a mouthwatering, refreshing glass of bubbly that pairs well with caviar or popcorn. “Brut” and the other terms we use to describe the sweetness levels of sparkling wine originated with Champagne in France, but they are now used all over the world. In order of driest to sweetest, those terms are: brut, extra dry or extra sec, sec, demi-sec and doux as the sweetest, richest version. The brut category is also sometimes further broken down into extra brut and brut nature: All three categories permit as little as 0 grams of residual sugar, but brut nature has the lowest ceiling for sugar content, making it the driest of the dry.

—Dr. Vinny

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