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.

Moet and Chandon Dom Perignon Champagne 2006
A.C., France
Vintages Wine Panel: Purported to be the father of all Champagne, Dom Pérignon continues to impress generation after generation. This ultimate anniversary or birthday 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: One of the kings of the Champagne category, this bubbly is a great choice for big celebrations and milestones. Robust and deep with enticing notes of brioche, ripe pear and hazelnut. This wine is part of the Vintages Essentials Collection. Champagne food pairings: caviar, oysters, mussels. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Favorite Sparkling Wine  Price: $219.95 Score: 94/100

This Champagne was reviewed April 21, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 280461  Check Stock

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava 2008
Deep and toasty with delicious notes of ripe pears. Creamy layers of flavor and zippy finish make this bubbly perfect for a cocktail party. Alcohol: 12%  750 ml  Price: $12.65 Score: 87/100

This Cava was reviewed July 11, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 88591  Check Stock

Georges Gardet Brut Cuvée Saint Flavy Champagne
A.C., Champagne, France
Toasty and classic with elegant aromas of baked bread, green apple and lime. Good persistence of flavours and bubbles. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2016  Splendid Salad Wine  Top Rated Sparkling Wine  Price: $37.95 Score: 91/100

This Champagne was reviewed April 13, 2013 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 924654  Check Stock

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Champagne 2002
A.C., Champagne, France
Smoky and toasty and deep and fulfilling! Yes! Yes! Yes! Not a lot of fruit more toast and depth. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2017  Top Rated Sparkling Wine  Price: $81.95 Score: 95/100

This Champagne was reviewed October 27, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 69773  Check Stock

Ironstone Vineyards Ironstone Vineyards Muscat Alexandria Grenache Gris 2007
California, United States
I recommend this year after year. The ultimate wine for many Asian and spicy dishes, it is redolent of rose petals, lychee, white peach, honeysuckle and a faint hint of apricot. Medium-bodied with no heavy oak or tannins. Lovely mouth-watering acidity and a pleasant melon-infused finish. Muscat Alexandria Grenache Gris food pairings: spicy Asian dishes, cajun catfish, salmon sashimi, seared scallops. Alcohol: 11%  Sweetness: Medium Dry  750 ml  Price: $14.95 Score: 89/100

This Muscat Alexandria Grenache Gris was reviewed April 11, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 355784  Check Stock
BC: 355784  Check Stock

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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.