Having a dainty pre-drink with your squad before hitting the town this NYE? Planning to retire your sequins in favour of a champagne-and-movie night with your number ones? Hosting you and SO’s family for a Christmas brunch you can’t remember why you decided to organize? No matter what your holiday plans, we’ve got you covered with bubbly options at every price point—and we tapped sommelier and general manager of Toronto’s Montecito restaurant Heather McDougall for her recommendations. Here, champagne, sparkling wines and bubbly fruity bevs to suit every budget because there’s really nothing like having a glass (or two) of the French fizzy stuff to put us in the festive mood, non?
The champagne wannabes
Champagne by its purest definition is a type of sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following a v. specific fermentation process, but according to McDougall, there’s also a class of divine champagne dupes made in the traditional champagne method “where secondary fermentation happens in the bottle to create and trap the bubbles.” The wines are then left in contact with the yeast cells after fermentation giving the wines extra weight and a more toasty and nutty flavour done in a dry mineral style, she adds. If you can’t find the below picks at your local liquor store, McDougall says to look for Cava (from Spain), Franciacorta (from Italy) or any of the awesome Canadian options from Ontario and B.C.
Codorniu Brut Classico, Cava, Spain, $14
Valldosera Brut Nature, Cava, Spain, $20
Bella Sparkling Blanc de Blancs, B2, British Columbia, $25
13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé, Niagara, Ontario, $28
Bellavista Franciacorta Alma Cuvée Brut, Italy, $49
The best bubbly bang for your buck
“Bubbles are a year-round staple in my house, and on the list here at Montecito,” McDougall tells us. She recommends stocking up as early as possible in December when there is a good selection available because it “means that I have something to suit all occasions and even give as a last minute gift.” Sound advice. “My go-tos are Crémants from all over France and cool places, literally, all over the world. They bring the creamier texture of bottle fermentation with a lighter, brighter, and fresher expression.” According to McDougall, cool climates are perfect for sparkling wine production, and drinking options from off the beaten path means you can really get more bubbly bang for your buck.
Jacob’s Creek Brut Cuvée, Australia, $15
Kir Yianna Paranga, Greece, $16
Château Moncontour Tête de Cuvée Brut Vouvray, Loire Valley, France, $18
Domaine Rolet Crémant du Jura Rosé Brut, France, $30
The sweetest sparkling sips
“Some people’s obsession with ‘dry wines’ (a.k.a. wines that aren’t sweet) seems silly to me,” explains McDougall, encouraging people not to be scared of sweeter sips. “Sugar is never an issue unless there is either too much or not enough. Too much sweetness makes the wine seem syrupy; not enough, and it will remove the enamel from your teeth.” According to the sommelier, a hint of sweetness makes the below sparkling wines the perfect sidekick for everything from a cheese and charcuterie platter, spicy takeout and chicken wings to a stack of Christmas morning pancakes. “The bubbles act as acidity and help to keep things fresh,” McDougall adds.
Contraband Sparkling Rosé, Ontario VQA, $21
Josef Chromy Pepik Sekt, Australia, $22
Benjamin Bridge NOVA 7, Nova Scotia, $25