Definition - What does Dosage mean?

Dosage is a stage in sparkling wine production that takes place between disgorging and final corking. It involves topping off the wine with a mixture of the base wine, sugar, 0.02 to 0.03 grams of sulfur dioxide (as a preservative) and sometimes alcohol. The mixture is called a liqueur d’expédition.

Some Champagne productions claim to have a secret recipe of the liqueur d’expédition wherein they add additional ingredients such as port, cognac, elderberry wine, kirsch wine, raspberry wine, alum solutions, tartaric acid or additional tannins.

The purpose of dosage is to balance the acidity of the wine with additional sugar.

WineFrog explains Dosage

Dosage has been a part of the sparkling wine production process since the 19th century. Originally, back then, Champagne was highly sweetened - up to 100 grams per liter of sugar. Now, the trend is toward champagnes with less sugar - up to 10 or 11 grams per liter.

The practice of dosing is rooted in the Champagne region. The cool climate means the grapes struggle to ripen, creating wines that are very acidic. Sparkling wines become more acidic after second fermentation. The addition of dosage was necessary to balance the acidity.

There is an official regulation on the dosages used for Champagne and sparkling wines. These regulations determine which term can be added to the label - Brut Nature, Extra-Brut, Brut, Extra sec, Sec, Demi-Sec or Doux. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Brut Nature - no added sugar and under 3 grams per liter of residual sugars
  • Extra-Brut - between 0 and 6 grams per liter of residual sugars
  • Brut - less than 12 grams per liter of residual sugars
  • Extra sec (or Extra Dry) - between 12 and 17 grams per liter of residual sugars
  • Sec (or Dry) - between 17 and 32 grams per liter of residual sugars
  • Demi-Sec - between 32 and 50 grams per liter of residual sugars
  • Doux - more than 50 grams per litre of residual sugars

(There is a tolerance of +/- 3 grams on the figures of residual sugars. ie a brut may have 15 grams per liter.)

Sparkling wines are now offered dosed or undosed. Undosed wines allow the intrinsic qualities of the wine and its terroir to shine through while providing better minerality and revealing the greater complexity of the wines.