|These numbers are before adding sugar. Courtesy Wine Folly|
A pinch of sugar.
I learned this recently from someone who has been spending a lot of time working with restaurants on their wine by-the-glass programs in more than one part of the country, though that person believes New York is the epicenter of it.
The reason is this: very few restaurants have a good preservation system for Champagne. A bottle opened at 6 pm might not appear to have much fizz left at 8:30 pm.
Adding a touch of sugar just before serving -- less than the size of the packets used for coffee -- causes the Champagne to fizz up. It looks festive, and the customer can't complain that the wine has gone flat, no matter how it tastes. Try it at home: it works.
There's a reason no news organization has done an investigation of this practice, which is widely known among restaurant people: it's not harmful. Almost all sparkling wine has residual sugar anyway, so it's not a case where a diabetic would unknowingly face a health risk. A packet of sugar contains about 4 grams of sugar, for about 16 calories.
The only thing at risk is the taste of the Champagne. A glass of Brut Champagne might have, on average, about 2 grams of residual sugar. Adding half a packet of sugar to freshen up the bubbles doubles the sugar content, making it sweeter than a glass of Extra Dry Champagne. The 2 extra grams of sugar won't kill you: try asking the chef how much butter and salt is in your appetizer.
But if you ever thought the Champagne you ordered tasted a little sweeter than you expected, now you know why.