By: Matt Steeves – Quercus Vino Ottawa

Lianne Laing and I chatted about terrific sparkling wines for the holidays this morning in our regular wine segment.

You can also catch us again on CTV on December 31st  when we’ll be chatting about sparkling wine cocktails for the New Year.

Sparkling wines are the perfect wine for all occasions. Great for celebrations and very food friendly, making them incredibly versatile at any gathering or a terrific gift option too.

Celebrating isn’t complete without sparkling wines. Sparkling wines are some of the most food friendly wines available and you should always have at least one bottle chilled and ready to serve. Make that two bottles around the holiday season. One doesn’t have to buy a $50 Champagne to get a quality sparkling wine. Spanish Cava, made the same way as Champagne, are often $15-$20 and taste twice that good.  From Canada to New Zealand, you can find terrific sparkling wines at very reasonable prices.

Everyone is familiar with Champagne, arguably the best marketed wine there’s ever been! Champagne’s are excellent sparkling wines, and if you don’t mind paying $40-$400 then that’s great. The reality is, you don’t need to spend that kind of money to get delicious sparkling wine, made the same way, with similar quality as Champagne. I’ve got some great options for you today from all around the world that I believe you’ll enjoy too.

The wines I’ve chosen offer great value and would be terrific for holiday celebrations.  Many of these are so affordable they can be purchased by the case (6 or 12 bottles), so you’re never in a situation where you don’t have at least one bubbly on hand.

Trapiche Extra Brut 2013 – Argentina – $11.95 – This is an impressive sparkling wine given its price ($11.95). Nose is full of lovely flinty minerality, toast, and green apple. This is a stand-out wine for enjoying with large crowds or simply to be your go-to bubbly to have on hand should an impromptu celebration be required.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava – Spain – $14 – Spanish ‘Champagne’ for literally a fraction of the price!

Oyster Bay Rose – New Zealand – $22 – Brilliant light copper colour with citrus, biscuit, and field berry notes. Micro bubbles make this refreshing blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir a great complement to any holiday hors d’oeuvres or main courses. To be released via Vintages on December 17, 2014.

Ferrari Brut – Italy – $26 – Italian ‘Champagne’… – Ferrari has been producing world class Methodo Classico sparkling wine since 1902. A pioneer in premium Italian traditional sparkling wine production, Ferrari, has been loved by many around the world for over a century. Not to be confused with another iconic Italian brand, this Ferrari has relied only on its delicious wines to build its international following.
A non-vintage sparkling wine that was disgorged in 2014, the nose displays golden delicious apple, lemon-lime, vanilla bean, biscuit, and wet stone. A very attractive wine. Some of the finest bubbles I’ve enjoyed, the delicate mousse has a wonderful tart key lime finish. Very food friendly. Enjoy now with your closest friends.

Creekside The Trad 2011 – Ontario – $28.95 – Terrific Ontario vintage sparkling wine made the same was a Champagne.  If you can get your hands on this then I’d highly recommend it!

Benjamin Bridge Brut Vintage 2009 – Nova Scotia (Canada) – $49.95 –  Benjamin Bridge has captured the attention and admiration of wine afficandos with their delicious high quality sparkling wines. Proudly Canadian, this Gaspreau Valley (Nova Scotia) based sparkling wine house is making a real fizz with their premium classic method sparkling wines. The 2009 Brut is a blend of L’Acadie, Chardonnay and Seyval, all from their estate vineyards. The nose offers crisp golden apple, honey suckle, baked bread and lees. Fine micro bubbles coat the palate and lead to a long mineral driven green apple finish. A fine wine that would enhance any celebration and would complement a gourmet holiday meal alongside your closest friends and family.

Sparkling wines are great for pairing with all sorts of foods from canapés, soups, seafood, fish, poultry, and snacks like popcorn or chips. My favourite is smoked salmon, cream cheese, with onions and capers on Christmas morning. Although, I love sparkling wine with just about anything, any time of the day!

Here are some novel food pairing suggestions for sparkling wines.  Note that pretty much anything goes with bubbles, and especially anything that’s rich or salty.  One of my favourite pairings is a hi-low pairing of fancy Sparkling with with a bag of tasty kettle chips.  Win-win.  http://winefolly.com/tutorial/champagne-food-pairings/

And, if you’d like to know how Traditional or Methode Traditionelle sparkling wines are made, then here’s a great sketch showing the process:

Summary: You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a quality wine to enjoy over the holiday season, however, it pays to do some research or let a sommelier or LCBO product consultant do the “hard” work for you! Check out www.lcbo.ca for these and other holiday wine recommendations.