“I believe more strongly than ever that the three Prosecco consortiums should work together to eliminate the words extra dry in labeling,” wrote Bele Casel grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro yesterday on his Facebook.
“When foreigners see this on the label,” he noted, “they expect to drink a dry wine but they are served a sweet wine instead.”
Ask consumers and even wine professionals and few will know what the expression “extra dry” means in sparkling wine labeling.
It refers to the amount of residual sugar in the wine.
Grapes contain natural sugar. And when grape must is used to make sparkling wine, cane sugar is added to it up to three times during the winemaking process.
In the case of Prosecco production, it’s added only once, after the first fermentation is complete in order to provoke the second fermentation and give the wine its sparkle and desired residual sugar.
Here’s the basic breakdown of the sweetness designations for sparkling wine. The figures to the right are the amounts of residual sugar in grams per liter of wine.
Brut Nature (no added sugar): 0–3
Extra Brut: 0–6
Extra Dry: 12–17
As you can see, an extra dry wine is actually one of the sweetest in the spectrum!
This archaic system is confusing and, when it comes down to it, misleading for consumers and wine professionals who are unfamiliar with how sparkling wine is made and labeled.
It’s the product of another era before the two world wars when people preferred drinking sweet wines. In those days, extra dry was a dry wine compared with the demi-sec wines that were popular at the time.
For the sake of producers, consumers, and wine and restaurant professionals alike, it’s time to update this designation system to reflect current tastes and the growing demand for dry sparkling wine.
Image via Wikipedia Creative Commons.