Wine Words Demystified – Dosage

You know the deal; the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus – Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s word is Dosage

According to Karen MacNeil‘s The Wine Bible:

The degree of sweetness of the LIQUER D’EXPÉDITION, which is used to TOP Up Champagne before its final corking.  The dosage is what determines whether a Champagne will be BRUT, EXTRA DRY, DEMI-SEC, and so on. 

Dosage is the practice of adding liqueur d’expédition to replace the small amount of liquid lost during the disgorgement process when making Sparkling wine using  the traditional method.  The liqueur d’expédition used during dosage is typically a mixture of wine and sugar.

Image courtesy of

Some Champagne houses claim to have secret recipes for the liqueur d’expédition introduced during dosage.   According to Wikipedia:

In the Traité théorie et pratique du travail des vins (1873), (“translates to Treaty of theoretical and practical works of wine”) Maumené lists the additional ingredients “usually present in the liqueur d’expédition”: port winecognacelderberrywine, kirschframboise wine, alum solutions, tartaric acid, and tannins.

Wow!  I sure that’s not happening these days!

Equipment for effecting dosage through the addition of ‘liqueur d’expédition. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Ultimately, the amount of sugar included in the liqueur d’expédition determines the sweetness of Sparkling wines.



  1. lavigne says:

    At the beginning of the story of the sparkling wine, this last one was sweetened because the alcoholic fermentation did not end totally. The consumer thus got used to associating the sparkling wine with sensations of sweet wine. When the oenological practices improved, the alcoholic fermentation of the sparkling wine is totally ended and the wine became dry. So, not to perturb the consumer, the winemaker continued to leave some residual sugar in the sparkling wine. This is the story of the “dosage”. But today more and more sparkling wines are dry, we name them “nature”, ” extra brut “, ” zero dosage “, ” ultra brut “…

    1. Thanks for the comments. You’ve furthered my sparkling wine education!

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