Food & Wine & Bubbles

Written by Gary Killops



The 11th annual London Wine & Food Show will soon be here. Last year a record high of over 15,600 attended the three-day event at the Agriplex at the Western Fair District.

The 2016 festival will once again be at the Metroland Media Agriplex from Thursday, January 14th to Saturday, January 16th.

lfw-logoBuilding on last year’s success that saw almost 100 exhibitors participating in the event, the show promises to be even bigger this year. There is something for everyone at the festival. Ontario winemakers, craft brewers, distillers and their representatives will be available to talk about their products. There will be gastronomical treats from some of Ontario’s top chefs to taste ,while sipping on some of Ontario’s finest wine and craft beer.

Interested in learning a little bit while at the London Wine & Food Show? The informal cooking seminars and wine tastings are always well attended. And there are opportunities to ­discover what is going on in Ontario’s culinary scene.

Tickets will go on sale soon. Visit www.westernfairdistrict.com/wine-food-show for ticket information.

TIP: purchase admission tickets online before the show and save!

Holiday Bubbles!

In the next month or so there is a good chance that either you will open a bottle of sparkling wine, or someone will pour you a glass of bubbly. This fizzy wine is good all year round, but people do tend to buy more for holidays. Sparkling wine is synonymous with celebrations.

A question I am often asked at this time of year is what the difference is between sparkling wine and Champagne? Both are bubbly, the cork pops on both when opened so what is the difference?

Quick answer: Champagne is a sparkling wine but not all sparkling wines are Champagne. A sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France. (Some California wineries do call their sparkling wine Champagne, but that’s another story.)

Getting those tiny bubbles into the bottle can be accomplished in several ways. The two most common methods are called the “traditional method” and “charmat” or tank method.

Champagne is made using the traditional method. Secondary fermentation occurs in the wine bottle. A byproduct of fermentation is carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 can’t escape from the bottle and dissolves into the wine and over time makes the wine bubbly. After fermentation is complete, the expired yeast cells remain in the bottle for an extended period of time adding complex bready notes to the wine. It is a time-consuming, labour-intensive process, which explains in part why Champagne is expensive.

The charmat method is cheaper and quicker. The secondary fermentation occurs in large pressurized tanks and the product is bottled under pressure. This method produces a fruity style sparkling wine. If you have ever had an Italian Prosecco you have had a bubbly made this way.

Both methods are used in the making of sparkling wine in Ontario. Here are a few sparkling wine suggestions for you to consider this holiday season. They are either available directly from the winery or at the LCBO.

grangeThe Grange of Prince Edward County 2013 Sparkling Riesling ($19.95 lcbo #392746) — A tasty, semi-sweet bubbly that packs a good punch of acidity making it very food friendly and versatile. Fruity apple and pear notes; this “Limited Edition” was made using the “charmat method”. It is no longer available at the winery as it sold out. However it can still be found at some LCBO Vintages locations. It’s capped with a crown cap (similar to a beer bottle cap) so you will need to use a bottle opener for this one.

cavespringsCave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut Sparking Wine ($29.95 lcbo #213983) — Brut on the label means that the wine is dry. There should be no perception of sweetness at all. Blanc de Blancs means that the wine is made of 100% white wine grapes, most commonly chardonnay.

This non-vintage sparkling wine, made from chardonnay grown on the limestone-rich Niagara Escarpment bench, was made using the “traditional method”. After secondary fermentation the wine remained on the lees for 30 months. Notes of crisp apple, pear, bread dough and wet stone. Quite complex and an excellent value. This one should impress every discerning sparkling wine drinker on your list.

Vineland Estates 2013 Reserve Brut ($28, winery only) — This is a dry bubbly (charmat method). A blend of pinot meunier (a black wine grape most noted for being one of the three main varieties used in the production of Champagne) (49%), chardonnay (42%) and riesling (9%). Fresh apple, crisp acidity with fine tiny bubbles. Perfect for popping at any celebration!

Ontario sparkling wines are very food friendly, and very versatile for wine and food pairings. Their high acidity cuts through rich, fatty dishes and can handle salty dishes too.

Gary Killops is a certified wine geek who loves to talk, taste and write about wine. He shares his wine tasting notes on EssexWineReview.com

About the author

Gary Killops

Gary Killops is a CAPS Certified Sommelier who loves to talk, taste and write about wine. He shares his wine tasting notes on EssexWineReview.com