It’s about time we talk about the terms used to define the sparkling wine sweetness in the different types of bubbly wine.  

Unfortunately, it’s not a simple explanation since each type of bubbly wine:  champagne, prosecco, cava, sparkling wine uses its own verbiage.  And the different levels of sweetness also varies from type to type.  Let me explain.  

Sparkling Wines Defined 

So, first things first, it’s important to understand that there are many types of bubbly wine out there.  And for this post we’re going to talk about 4 of them:

  • Champagne 
  • Prosecco
  • Cava
  • Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine types:  champagne, prosecco, sparkling wine, cava


Champagne is bubbly wine that is made in the region of Champagne, France.  In order to be called champagne, it must come from this region and adhere to strict protocols.  

Champagne is made with three grapes:  chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.  Champagne is a lengthy process and the bubbles come from the second fermentation.  We will talk about the whole process in another post, but the important thing to note that the second fermentation takes place in the bottle itself.  


Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain (oh how I love Spain) and is often made in the same method as champagne.  The biggest difference is the type of grapes they use.  Typically, cava will be made with grapes more common to the area:  macabeo, parellada and xarel-lo.  

Cava is my second most favorite form of bubbly due to its price point and the fact that I love all things from Spain.  (Can’t take the Spanish teacher out of me!)


Prosecco comes to us from Italy and is made using the primary grape, glera.  The biggest difference is prosecco is made in a tank so, yes, it goes through a second fermentation but in a big tank and it takes a lot less time.

Sparkling Wine

If you have been around for a while, you know this is my go-to.  I absolutely love sparkling wine for so many reasons.  

Sparkling wine is any bubbly wine that is made outside of any of those areas mentioned above.   Most of the time, sparkling wine is made using the same grapes and same method as champagne, but not always.  Because there are less strict regulations, winemakers can be a little more creative.  

And why do I love sparkling wine so much?  Because it’s easily accessible and you can often times go visit the winery because it may just be a short flight away.  And you can’t beat the price point compared to champagne. 

Sparkling Wine Sweetness Terms Defined

As mentioned, not only does each type of bubbly have its own sparkling wine sweetness term, but also it’s own number of terms.  

The other confusing part of the terminology is the bottle might say dry or semi dry and if you’re thinking in wine terms you’re probably thinking something very specific.  But if bubbly wine terms, that bottle labeled dry or semi-dry, really means its on the sweeter side.  

As you’re shopping for your next bottle of bubbly, check out the labels for these terms to help you decide the level of sweetness in that particular bottle.

Sparkling Wine Sweetness Levels defined

So we made this cheat sheet for you to take next time you’re out shopping for your next bottle of bubbly wine.  

Sparkling Wine Sweetness Meaning

Here’s the thing, words like ‘brut’ and ‘extra dry’ are simply referring to the level of sweetness for that the particular bottle of bubbly.

Sparkling wine sweetness level brut

I, for example, am not a fan of very sweet drinks, so you will always see me choose a bottle of brut, extra brut or brut nature.  On a random occasion (and depending on a recipe), I may pick up a bottle of extra dry.  

Sparkling wine sweetness level extra dry

Once you identify how sweet you like your bubbly, you’ll be able to choose bottles based on that verbiage.  Now, keep in mind other factors may influence how much you like that particular bottle, but this will give you a good starting point.  

Want More?

Are you interested in learning more about the bubbly wine you’re drinking?  We’ve got you covered.

  • If you’re on a low sugar diet or are simply watching the amount of sugar you consume, check out this post
  • If you’re curious how many calories are in your favorite glass of bubbly, check out this post.  

And if you want to see the bottles we’re currently popping and loving, be sure to follow us over on Instagram as we typically introduce a new bottle every week.  

Did this help explain to decipher that bubbly wine label?  What other topics would you like us to cover?

Learn how to interpret sparkling wine sweetness levels. Warning: Dry = Sweet. As you’re shopping for your next bottle of bubbly, use this chart to reference the labels for these terms to help you decide the level of sweetness in that particular bottle. Check out my blog for more bubbly knowledge and follow along here for all things bubbly! | Sparkling Wine Sweetness Chart | Wine Sweetness Chart | Wine Sweetness Scale | Wine Dry to Sweet Chart