Best Sparkling Wine

The sparkling wine Champagne is named after the northern region of France where it’s produced. Other regions of France, as well as other countries, make sparkling wine, but only those from Champagne may be called Champagne.

Supposedly the eighteenth-century blind Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, accidentally discovered how to put the bubbles in Champagne when his wines started fermenting again in the spring after the cold winter had stopped them. Other records attribute this discovery to the British scientist Christopher Merret thirty years before Pérignon.

Pérignon is credited widely with improving the techniques of blending wines from different years as well as the three principle grapes used: the white grape Chardonnay and two red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

My reviews of these best value Sparkling wines are updated weekly. These Sparkling wines offer great taste at a good price. You'll find a definition of Sparkling at the bottom of this page as well as food pairings for Sparkling in my wine matcher. This is just a sampling of my reviews, but you can get all of them when you join my wine community.

Cave De Beblenheim Heimberger Brut Crémant D'alsace Rosé
A.C., Alsace, France
Vintages Wine Panel: Made in the traditional method using exclusively Pinot Noir grapes, this Crémant Brut Rosé is wonderful for celebratory sipping, or for a quiet dinner with that special someone. Dry, with a fine mousse and plenty of cranberry and red fruit on the palate. Medium bodied, with tangy acidity that adds focus to a medium-long finish. Great for sipping just before or after a meal, or alongside lighter fish or seafood dishes. My note: Vibrantly ripe strawberries and raspberries in a toasty package that’s completely refreshing. Incredible quality and taste for the money. Crémant D'alsace Rosé food pairings: seafood. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $17.95 Score: 88/100

This Crémant D'alsace Rosé was reviewed June 26, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 168948  Check Stock
 

Progenie Brut Nature Sparkling Wine Vistalba Pinot Noir Chardonnay
Mendoza, Argentina
Vivacious notes of green apples, melon and brioche. Creamy, toasty goodness. A wonderful wine to celebrate life. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $18.00 Score: 89/100

This Pinot Noir Chardonnay was reviewed June 12, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

 

Moet and Chandon Dom Perignon 2000
Champagne, France
Vintages Wine Panel: Purported to be the original Champagne, Dom Perignon continues to impress generation after generation. This ultimate anniversary, birthday or, of course, Father’s Day celebration bubbly is only made in the greatest years. Loaded with stylish aromas of citrus, artisanal bread, green apple, mineral and pear, this is quite dry and vibrantly refreshing on the palate. Expect to be impressed. My note: A magnificent champagne with ripe fruit, lovely toast and an extraordinary length on the finish. Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Favorite Sparkling Wine  Price: $224.95 Score: 96/100

This Dom Perignon was reviewed June 7, 2008 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 280461  Check Stock
 

Masottina Brut Treviso Prosecco
D.O.C., Veneto, Italy
Terrific price for this toasty refreshing bubbly. Serve at large parties: they'll love it and you won't blow the budget. Alcohol: 11%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2014  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $16.95 Score: 88/100

This Prosecco was reviewed December 8, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 297838  Check Stock
 

Charles Mignon Brut Rosé Pinot Noir Blend
A.C., Champagne, France
Vintages Wine Panel: This is a real treat. Pretty pale pink in the glass with fresh strawberry and apples on the nose and palate, this dry, medium-bodied, well-structured Champagne has superb length and a wonderfully full finish. Savour sips of it with good company and conversation. My note: I love rose champagne! That means there’s more pinot noir influence in the blend which results in a more flavourful bubbly, in my opinion. Toasty and rich with some strawberry top notes. Lovely. Pinot Noir Blend food pairings: pork dishes. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2010‐2014  Favourite Sparkling Wine  Price: $47.95 Score: 90/100

This Pinot Noir Blend was reviewed September 18, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 173435  Check Stock
 


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Sparkling

The process today still involves a first fermentation to make the still, acidic wine. Then, before bottling, a small amount of wine, sugar and yeast is added (“liqueur de triage”) to trigger a second fermentation in the bottle, where the carbon dioxide bubbles are trapped. The bottle is gradually tilted upside down (riddling), by hand or machine, and eventually the dead yeast cells gather in the neck and are disgorged so that the wine is clear. Before the final cork seal is affixed, the wine is topped up with a small amount of wine and sugar (liqueur d'expédition). The amount of sugar determines whether the bubbly will be Brut (very dry), Sec (off-dry) or Demi-Sec (medium-sweet).

Rosé bubbly is made either by blending red and white wine or by limiting the skin contact of the red grapes during maceration, when the grapes soak in their own juice before fermentation.

Blanc de blancs Champagne is made only from Chardonnay while blanc de noirs is only from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The grapes for vintage Champagne that show a year on the label were harvested from one year only, while non-vintage Champagne are grapes and wines blended from many years. While Vintage Champagnes age well, non-vintage bubblies are meant to be consumed within a year or two of purchase while they still have their fruit freshness. Many producers outside of the Champagne region use this process and grapes to make their bubbly and often put méthode traditionnelle on their label.

The words Champagne and méthode champenoise may not legally be used by producers except those from Champagne itself.

Bubblies made in Burgundy, France, are called Crémants de Bourgogne while those from Alsace are Crémant d'Alsace. Spain makes Cavas (“cave”), Italy makes either Prosecco (lightly sparkling) or Spumante (fully sparkling and sweet), Germany makes Sekt or Deutscher and those from New World regions, such as Canada, California, Australia and elsewhere, are simply called sparkling wine.

Some bubblies outside of Champagne are made from a cheaper and quicker carbonation process, during which bubbles are injected into the tanks of fermenting wines. This method doesn’t create wines with the same refinement and nuance as the Champagne method. The bubbles tend to go flat quickly.

Drink bubbly from a flute glass that preserves its bubbles and concentrates its aromas. (Forget those old coupe glasses molded to the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breasts.)

Signature bubbly aromas include toast, yeast, fresh-baked bread, green apple, lemon, lime and orange zest.

Sparkling wine is one of the most versatile wines with food because of its zesty fruit aromas, mouth-watering acidity and palate-cleaning bubbles.

Pair dry styles with spring rolls, almonds, canapés, brioche bread, cheeses, poultry, sashimi, Thai coconut shrimp, pasta with cheese-based sauce, caviar, shellfish, seafood risotto, snack foods, onion rings, egg dishes, avocado salad, guacamole, pâté, pasta, charcuterie, veal, salads and vegetarian casseroles.

Sweet bubbly (doux or spumante) goes well with curries, fruit flans, cobblers, biscotti, nuts, soft cheeses, Christmas pudding, lemon soufflé, mille feuilles, pavlova and tiramisu.