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.

Cristina Ascheri Moscato D'asti 2010
D.O.C.G., Piedmont, Italy
Vintages Wine Panel: Moscato d’Asti is aromatically intense and slightly sweet, making it a terrific wine to sip at the end of a fine dinner, or during the pleasant idle-chat-and-sipping moments as a meal winds slowly to a close. It has a slight frizzante sparkle, giving it a lovely refreshing quality that means it is also a fine palate-refresher with, or instead of, the sorbet between courses. As a plus for the responsible host, it is also delightfully low in alcohol (5.5% alc./vol.). My note: Supreme… I want to wear a sandwich board and let people know about this type of wine… well, almost. Orange zest, peach fuzz nuzzle, some spritz and a lot of laughter. Slight sweetness, don’t be afraid, you’ll like it. Alcohol: 5.5%  Sweetness: Medium  750 ml  Drink: 2011‐2013  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $16.95 Score: 90/100

This Moscato D'asti was reviewed August 20, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 746479  Check Stock
BC: 865444  Check Stock
 

Angels Gate Winery Archangel Brut Chardonnay 2010
V.Q.A., Ontario, Canada
Toasty and refreshing with lovely aromas of green apple and fresh baked bread. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2015  Price: $19.95 Score: 89/100

This Chardonnay was reviewed November 20, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 227009  Check Stock
 

Chandon Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc De Noirs
California, United States
Vintages Wine Panel: Moët & Chandon, one of Champagne’s most prestigious houses and purveyors of the legendary Dom Pérignon, was among the first to spot the potential for crafting fine sparkling wine in California. Established in the 1970s, Domaine Chandon was the first sparkling wine producer in California to craft wines using the traditional method of Champagne. This festive, ready-to-drink bubbly is soft and elegant with ripe cherry and strawberry aromas, as well as notes of vanilla and spice. It’s rich but nicely balanced by a seam of crisp acidity. Classic style and a great value too! My note: Perfect balance of toasty richness and bright green fruit! This is an absolutely steal of a price for first-class bubbly. Lovely! Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2011‐2015  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $24.95 Score: 91/100

This Blanc De Noirs was reviewed April 30, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 100693  Check Stock
BC: 100693  Check Stock
SAQ: 11456142  Check Stock
 

Belenda San Fermo Di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco  Brut 2007
D.O.C. Veneto, Italy
Fantastic value! Get married cheap. Lovely toasty notes with a lime bite. Prosecco Brut food pairings: shrimp scampi. Alcohol: 11%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Favorite Sparkling Wine  Price: $19.95 Score: 89/100

This Prosecco Brut was reviewed August 16, 2008 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 82347  Check Stock
 

Vineland Estates Winery Reserve Brut Charmat Method 2008
V.Q.A., Ontario, Canada
Vintages Wine Panel: The Charmat method is favoured when you want to emphasize freshness and aromatics, and it’s used to great effect for this Riesling-centric blend. Notes of fresh flowers, apple, pear and mineral delight the nose. Dry with a light body and gentle fizzy mousse. Very pretty minerality here on the tangy finish. Perfect as a sipper for casual gatherings, this will also go nicely with a variety of appetizers. My note: A terrific budget bubbly with attractive toasty apple notes. Excellent craftsmanship. Food pairings: steamed clams, grilled salmon, appetizers. Alcohol: 11%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2011‐2014  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $19.95 Score: 89/100

This wine was reviewed September 3, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 39495  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.