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Champagne doesn’t have to have a French accent

Champagne is the drink of celebrations. And while only real champagne, made from chardonnay, pinot noir or pinot meunier grapes, comes from the Champagne regions of France, there are many less expensive sparkling wines that go down just as nicely for any celebration.

Sparkling wine is created when a yeast and sugar solution is added to a dry table wine. The resulting fermentation creates tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide in the bottle.

Cava, is white sparkling wine, produced in Spain using the champagne method. Italian sparkling wines are called spumantes (sweet), prosecco (slightly sweet) and franciacorta, made using the champagne method. Asti is white sparkling wine produced in an area to the south of the town of Asti in Piedmont, Italy. Made from the moscato bianco grape, it is sweet and low in alcohol, another wine called moscato d’asti is made in the same region from the same grape, but produced by another technique.

California sparkling wines are made in the méthode champenoise style. Most sparkling wine producers in this state are found in cooler climates and use the same grapes as the French.

Ontario’s Bright’s President Dry is the most affordable option. In case you are wondering, the Ontario Supreme Court rule in 1987 that the French could not stop Ontario wineries from calling their products Canadian champagne. Since that ruling, Ontario sparkling wine has got much better. Consider these options: Henry of Pelham Family Estate Cuvée Catharine Brut; Brut Konzelmann Estate Winery Sparkling Riesling Methode Cuvee Close; and Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Sparkling Cuve Close.

From sweetest to driest, the terms used describe sparkling wine or champagne are demi-sec, sec, extra sec or extra dry, brut or extra brut.

Champagne and sparkling wine is best served in a flute, particularly if it’s a light and fruity. It is food friendly and can be drunk during the entire meal, but traditionally it is served as an aperitif, on its own or with some finger food. Sparkling wine is always served cold, its ideal drinking temperature at 7 to 9C.

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