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.

Cathedral Cellar Brut Kwv Méthode Cap Classique 2009
W.O., Western Cape, South Africa
A pleasant, remarkably well-priced bubbly with toasty peach fruit goodness. Great for parties. Alcohol: 13.5%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2014  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $16.95 Score: 87/100

This wine was reviewed November 10, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 296426  2943 in stock

Bellusi Belcanto Spumante Extra Non-Vintage Dry
D.O.C., Italy
Vintages Wine Panel: Italy produces remarkably well-priced and delicious bubblies. This delicious sparkler has notes of lime, orange peel, and smoke. Refreshing and vibrant, it’s an affordable alternative to Champagne for weddings, New Year’s Eve and other celebrations. Terrific aperitif. Non-Vintage Dry food pairings: Christmas pudding, fruit salad, chicken wings, lemon souffle, chocolate mousse. Alcohol: 11%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $19.95 Score: 88/100

This Non-Vintage Dry was reviewed December 6, 2008 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 53215  Check Stock

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Champagne 1999
Ac, Champagne, France
Lovely! Fresh, toasty notes with hints of green apples. One of the prettiest bottle designs for bubbly. Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Favorite Sparkling Wine  Price: $129.95 Score: 90/100

This Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Champagne was reviewed May 26, 2007 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 135798  Check Stock
BC: 267880  Check Stock
SAQ: 520197  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

Angels Gate Archangel Rose Brut Sparkling Wine 2009
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
Raspberry splendor in a glass. Bone-dry and refreshing: made from 100% pinot noir, and the first sparkling rose produced by this winery. What a magnificent effort. Alcohol: 12.5%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2014‐2015  Scrumptious Seafood Wine  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $25.00 Score: 90/100

This Rose Brut Sparkling Wine was reviewed March 1, 2014 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 203034  307 in 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.