Only if You’re Thirsty: Sparkling Wines for the Holidays

Written by Gary Killops




“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.”

I can relate to this famous quote by Lilly Bollinger who at one time ran the famous Champagne house in France.

Only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. However sparkling wines are produced in many other global wine regions including here in Ontario. Wine Country Ontario reports that approximately 26 wineries in the province are now making sparkling wines, and many of them rival the best that France has to offer.

Grapes commonly used to make sparkling wine in Ontario include chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, gamay and vidal.

As the holiday season approaches, glasses around our house tend to be filled with sparkling wine and more often than not, these glasses of bubbly tend to be Ontario-made.

Here are my Ontario sparkling wine recommendations for the holiday season. Buy some to give as gifts and keep some to open when you are happy, sad, hungry or thirsty.

Origin Aromatic Sparkling Wine  (LCBO # 470047, $17.95)

Aromatic-can-cropSparkling wine in a can? Really?! Why not?

When I first heard about this I didn’t believe it. I had never heard of sparkling wine in a can, or indeed of any wine being packaged this way. Unbeknownst to me, a few wineries in the United States and one in British Columbia were already doing this.

Beer is sold in cans, so why not wine? I was interested but not convinced that this was a good idea so I visited Between The Lines winery in Niagara, where a sparkling wine called Origin was being made and packaged in a can.

Origin Aromatic Sparkling Wine is made from 100 percent vidal grapes. A small dosage of vidal ice wine is added, resulting is a sweet finish to this sparkling wine. Initially sold in four-can packs at the winery, it is now available at the LCBO in a gift box containing three 250 mL cans.

Sparkling wine goes flat if the bottle is not consumed within 24 hours, so these small cans are ideal when you just want one glass of bubbly.

Origin presents lemon citrus notes. It is sweet and loaded with acidity to balance. An exclusive gift for those hard to buy for wine drinkers. They will love the uniqueness.

Lighthall-cropLighthall Progression Sparkling Wine 2014  (LCBO #468090, $20)

Another bottle of bubbly made from vidal grapes by Glenn Symons at his small family-run winery in Prince Edward County. This wine offers crisp and refreshing citrus and green notes.

You will notice the Lighthall bottle is capped with a crown, or bottle cap, rather than the traditional cork found on most bottles. Most sparkling wines, including Champagne, start out in bottles sealed with crown caps during secondary fermentation.

Crown caps are an economical alternative to the more common mushroom cork, but they do require a bottle opener to open.

Flat-Rock-cropFlat Rock Cellars Riddled Sparkling 2009  (LCBO #38315, $29.95)

Another Ontario sparkling wine sealed with a crown cap. In fact Niagara’s Flat Rock Cellars was the first winery in Ontario to use this cap on their VQA sparkling wine. They had to petition the VQA board for approval, arguing that it eliminates cork taint, keeps more bubbles in the bottle and is safer then corks, which can become projectiles if not handled carefully when opening.

Riddled is made from chardonnay and pinot noir in the same traditional method as champagne. It’s a very complex bubbly with baked apple, stone fruit, white flower, and baked bread notes. A gracefully aged wine that will impress your guest this holiday season. This wine will pair well with everything at the dinner table on Christmas Day. And I have to believe that Madame Bollinger would have been impressed with this sparkling wine!

Peller-cropPeller Estates Ice Cuvée Rosé  (LCBO #113035, $35.35)

This off-dry sparkling rosé from Niagara’s Peller Estates Winery is made from a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and gamay noir grapes. A small dosages of cab franc and vidal ice wines are added for sweetness.

There is no other Ontario sparkling wine quite like this one. Fresh and lively with juicy raspberry, cranberry and peach notes.This bubbly could replace Christmas morning mimosas.

Four unique and interesting Ontario VQA sparkling wines that I highly recommended this holiday season, and all are available at the LCBO.

Happy shopping!

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