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The best champagnes and sparkling wines to buy for New Year’s Eve

December 29, 2018

By Erin Henderson | Certified sommelier and co-founder of The Wine Sisters and Drink Toronto

I love the meme that’s floating around Instagram right now. You know the one: “Stay strong liver, the next few weeks are going to be rough.” Hilarious. Because it’s true.

But we’ve all made it to the home stretch. Weeks of partying, feasting, and drinking culminate in three short days with the granddaddy of all party nights, New Year’s Eve.

Hopefully you’re well prepared and can smugly sail through the next few days chilling out in your easy chair watching Netflix in your jammies. But I have a hunch one or two of you still need to make that last minute run to the wine store to get your NYE provisions.

Here’s the thing. The LCBO (or your local store wherever you live) is no fun during the holidays. Hot and overcrowded and filled with generally grumpy humans. And massive lines. This doesn’t put you in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year. Yet, every year I walk by my local store — en route to somewhere much more festive — and see a line up of cold and impatient looking people snaking around the building. Unless you genuinely love long waits in line, do not let this be you! (Friendly tip: New Year’s Eve is on December 31.)

So get thee to the wine store now. It will be bustling, but manageable. And to get you in and out before half the cashiers take their scheduled coffee break, I’ve listed six of my top bubblies for all budgets, each one guaranteed to make your New Year’s Eve prep calm and bright.

Go now, young grasshopper, and feel the peace that comes with wine preparedness.

Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace
Alsace, France
$19.95 Vintages 39016

Crémant is just the name for a sparkling wine that’s made in the same manner as champagne but produced in other areas of France (and possibly with other grapes than what champers uses). This bubbly is all Pinot Noir, and it’s bursting with strawberry and raspberry flavours. It has a creamy texture and fresh, mouthwatering acidity. Perfect pairing for smoked salmon or baked brie.

Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne
Burgundy, France
$19.95 Vintages 991562

A fabulous alternative to champagne, this is made of 100% Chardonnay grapes. Fresh and crisp with green apple, lemon, baked pastry and mineral flavours. Bring on the oysters!

Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Sparkling
VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$29.95 Vintages 213983

Sparkling wine is a rising star in Ontario — and many winemakers here are making fizz that can rival that of Champagne. Cave Spring is among the leaders and this Blanc de Blancs is rich, elegant and poised, with flavours of lemon, shortbread, sweet cream and mineral. The classic champagne pairings — caviar blini, foie gras or Oysters Rockefeller — would be a wise choice.

Gardet “Cuvée Saint Flavy Tradition” Brut
Champagne, France
$43.95 Vintages 924654

We featured this excellent champagne at Wine School and what a joy! Rich and flavourful with a creamy texture and vibrant acidity, this is a very capable champagne. For the price, it offers a terrific introduction to those looking to try the real deal. The best part: it delivers this quality without the usual sky-high dollar commitment many Champers command. This would be lovely served with a New Year’s Day brunch of poached eggs, asparagus, ham and gravlax.

Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut
Champagne, France
$73.95 LCBO 155341

A rich and decadent blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with flavours of dried lemon, golden apple and flaky pastry, this iconic bubbly has links to the Art Nouveau Era of the early 1900s. And bringing a splash of romantic, bohemian history to a party is never a bad thing. Pair this with fresh popcorn drizzled in truffle butter for a wink of decadent juxtaposition.

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé
Champagne, France
$99.95 Vintages 158550

This is one of the best-selling rosé champagnes in the world. Elegant and pretty with a soft, creamy texture, the flavours of red berries and sweet citrus are streaked by a wet-stone minerality. Totally delicious and regal, serve this with you NYE dinner — everything from beef carpaccio to bouillabaisse to cherries jubilee and chocolate.

 

Drink Toronto’s Wine School is the best place to learn about wine in a fun and informative atmosphere, and with plenty of delicious snacks, lots of laughs and Toronto’s coolest (and easygoing) people. There’s no pressure here, just good times and good wine.