This French word literally means "dry" and when used to describe still (nonbubbly) wines, indicates that the wine has little if any residual sugar left after fermentation, meaning the wine is dry (not sweet). In sparkling wines such as champagne, however, the word takes on quite another meaning: "sec" indicates a relatively sweet wine (demi-sec even sweeter), while the driest sparkling wines are referred to as brut.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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