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.

Mike Weir Sparkling Brut Méthode Traditionnelle 2009
V.Q.A., Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Classic with toasty goodness and green apple freshness. Awesome price! Food pairings: veggie tempura, fried chicken, grilled salmon steaks with peach salsa. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2014  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $24.95 Score: 89/100

This wine was reviewed July 21, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 187294  Check Stock
 

Ricossa Moscato D'asti 2007
D.O.C.G., Piedmont, Italy
Vintages Wine Panel: Few wines smell and taste like spring as the lovely, slightly sweet, low alcohol, highly aromatic and frizzante Moscato d’Asti does. Its aromas are reminiscent of spring meadow flowers, grapefruit, table grapes and sweet herbs. Medium sweet, it is nicely balanced out by a seam of youthful acidity. My note: Try this beautiful slightly sweet, slightly bubbly wine as an aperitif or with fruit desserts. Ricossa Moscato D'asti food pairings: mildly spiced Thai or Indian dishes, fruit desserts. Alcohol: 5%  750 ml  Price: $14.95 Score: 90/100

This Ricossa Moscato D'asti was reviewed May 24, 2008 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 72272  Check Stock
 

Huff Estates Winery Cuvee Peter Huff, Lighthall Vineyard Chardonnay Sparkling Wine 2004
V.Q.A., Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
Named for the owner's late son Peter, this spectacular bubbly bursts with aromas of green apples, orange zest, white flowers and freshly baked bread. Toasty goodness with an elegantly long finish. This is an incredible value compared to Champagne. Available from the winery. Chardonnay Sparkling Wine food pairings: salmon, caviar, salads, oysters, mussels. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $49.95 Score: 90/100

This Chardonnay Sparkling Wine was reviewed May 7, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

 

The Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery The Grange vineyards Brut 2007
Prince Edward County, Canada
Lime zesty refreshment with mouth-watering, crisp acidity. Toasty and lovely. One of Canada's best bubblies. Brut food pairings: seafood and shellfish, especially oysters. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2010‐2015  Price: $29.95 Score: 90/100

This Brut was reviewed April 26, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 5  Check Stock
 

Barefoot Cellars Bubbly Moscato Spumante
California, Usa
A delightful bubbly with aromas and flavours of ripe apricot and peach. The sweetness in this bubbly is offset by the refreshing bubbles for a delicious, zesty combination. Moscato Spumante food pairings: spicy foods, light desserts, fresh fruit. Alcohol: 8%  Sweetness: Sweet  750 ml  Price: $12.95 Score: 87/100

This Moscato Spumante was reviewed August 5, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 215061  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.