A couple of events started me thinking about the word “sweet.” The first happening had to do with an email reply from a friend of mine, and the second occurrence had to do with a bottle of sparkling wine.
All of us know that today’s English is filled with idioms and made-up words that reflect today’s world and, one such word that fills many needs today is…sweet. As I look at it and study it, the word looks like it’s misspelled and a bit weird (?). Maybe that means I’m a bit weird and off kilter — oh, I can see the heads out there going up and down in affirmation to that statement. So, let’s go to the email…
My friend was inquiring about a meeting that was to occur on a certain day this week and because of bad road conditions, she emailed saying she was unable to attend the meeting. I replied to her that the meeting had been rescheduled and her reply to me was… “Sweet!” Obviously, her reply was a positive statement but isn’t it interesting that in today’s world and when we want to express agreement, we use a word that means a sugary taste? And that brings us to that bottle of sparkling wine.
Reading wine labels is a two- edged sword for me because of the many languages used on the labels and the sometimes misleading descriptive words used to explain the wine. German doesn’t bother me, Italian intrigues me, Spanish is so interesting but French freezes my mind. I’ve tried to fully say many French words, but it seems I can’t get my tongue far enough up my nose to get that proper “‘uhn” sound at the end of so many French words. Yet, wine labels fascinate me and while recently drinking a bottle of champagne, I looked at the wine label and saw the wine was described as “extra dry” but it tasted…sweet!
What’s going on here and why when a wine should taste dry (meaning no or minimal sugar added to it) should it have such a sweet taste? It seems the answer is in the numbers…
When we think about sparkling wines, there are basically six categories of sweetness or lack of sweetness to define the wine. Each category reflects the amount of sugar added (or not added) to a particular wine and here they are:
Ultra Brut or Brut Nature: Totally dry with no added sugar.
Brut: It has a dry taste with no detection of sugar and can contain no more than 1.5 percent added sugar.
Extra dry/extra sec: Tastes off dry and slightly sweet — can contain up to 2 percent added sugar.
Sec: Means “dry” but its noticeably sweet — can contain up to 3.5 percent added sugar.
Demi-sec: Sweet — can contain up to 3.5-5 percent added sugar.
Doux: Sugary sweet — can contain up to 10 percent added sugar and that’s sweet!!!
And don’t forget that sparkling wines come from many countries — Spanish sparkling wine is called Cava, if it’s from Germany it’s called Sekt, Italians call their sparkling wine Spumante and then, there’s the French with their champagne — which can only be called that if it comes from the French region named…Champagne.
I guess it doesn’t matter what or how we describe something or someone as long as we all understand what’s being said. Maybe it’s best not to think too much about such things and just enjoy a glass of sparkling wine with a friend.
C’est la vie!
Next week, you said what?
As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!