Whether you plan to party until the wee hours of 2017 or you’re in for a more kid-friendly celebration, there’s a bottle (or can!) of bubbly for every New Year’s toast.
Many of us use "champagne" as a catchall phrase for sparkling wine in general, but there is a good reason that quality champagne is a splurge compared to its bubbly counterparts. True champagne must be produced from grapes that grow in the Champagne region of France and are subject to strict regulations concerning the viticulture, fermentation, carbonation, and pressing of the grapes to adhere to the rules of the appellation. Here are a couple of our recommendations for bubbles worth the splurge:
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Vintage Champagne 2004, $99
Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne, $80
In the past ten years, Canadian wines have taken off in terms of variety and popularity, but on a global stage, we’re still best known for our icewine (and we happen to be its leading global producer). Icewine grapes are harvested long after the standard picking season is over—when the grapes have frozen while still on the vine, resulting in a very concentrated, sweet wine. In recent years, winemakers have begun to release effervescent icewines, which cut the traditional sweetness with a healthy dose of dry bubbles, making it the perfect indulgence for any festive occasion. Try some for yourself:
Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine 2014, $80
Not all toasts need to be made with sparkling wine! Social Lite makes a terrific vodka-based cooler that delivers the bubbles you’re looking for, but without any of the sugar. The result is a glass of sparkling that’s amped up with citrus and ginger, allowing you to enjoy all of the flavour while skipping the extra calories.
Social Lite Lime Ginger, $10
France may have the stronghold on champagne, but other regions in Europe have their own versions of sparkling wine that are tremendously popular—for both their flavour and the fact that they often come with a significantly lower price tag. The best known are Prosecco, made in Italy from Glera grapes, and Cava, which is produced in Spain from mostly macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo grapes. If you’re looking for dry, tasty bubbles on a budget, these are the bottles for you:
Mionetto Il Prosecco, $14
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava, $14
Whether you’re planning a family-friendly New Year’s, or just looking to improve your mocktail game, there are terrific options for alcohol-free bubbles to serve at midnight. There are many cocktail syrups and cordials available these days, and just a few tablespoons added to a champagne flute will transform your sparkling water from blah to fabulous! It’s also easy to make your own at home, using whatever flavours you like, and it can be prepared up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge.
DIY CUSTOMIZABLE SIMPLE SYRUP
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1½ cups fruit juice or chopped fresh fruit of your choice
Combine sugar, water and fruit juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, and stir occasionally until the liquid remaining has reduced to just over 1 cup, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons of syrup in a flute glass, and top with sparkling water. Stir, taste, and add more syrup if desired.
Amp up the flavours even further by adding any of the following to your syrup while it’s simmering away: Fresh sprigs of rosemary or thyme, cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger slices, or a teaspoon of dried tea leaves.