originally posted December 2018
I was super excited to see numerous copies of a new sparkling wine cocktail guide, Let’s get Fizzical, by Pippa Guy at my local Indigo. I am a big sucker for bubbly wine and use it a lot in cocktail creations or for daytime wine drinking (add a little juice and viola! Mimosa!). The great book title also pulled me in quickly (I am a sucker for witty titles).
The book is a good outline for fizzy cocktails. Pippa gives you the basics (Mimosa, Bellini, Kir Royale, etc.) and then gives more complex versions of those cocktails. I also love that she provides non-alcoholic suggestions for many of the cocktail recipes. I often just substitute ginger ale for non-drinkers, but she has more inventive suggestions so people who don’t drink alcohol aren’t stuck with the same options repeatedly.
Like any well laid out cocktail guide she introduces types and variation of her main ingredient, her case being sparkling wine. I spent more time, than I thought I would want to, reading about popular sparkling wine regions and what styles/types of sparkling wines those areas produce. She briefly defines taste and styles from France (Champagne), Italy (Prosecco, Lambrusco, Moscato D’Asti), Spain (Cava), English Sparkling, and California Sparkling. If you are like me currently living in Ontario, I immediately wondered where Ontario sparkling wines situated themselves. Ontarions have a large selection of local bubbly available through the LCBO and those are available at a much better price point than other regions. Naturally, I cannot afford to buy a sample of each region to start comparing so I turned to the Internet!
Of the different descriptions/explanations of Ontario Sparkling wines that I came across, my favourite was the guys at sparklingwinos.com based out of Toronto. These guys have an entire blog and life built on exploring and teaching people about sparkling wine. They make the argument that in terms of style, Ontario Sparkling Wine is most comparable to Champagne than any others due to the similar latitude of the Niagara region to France, similar grapes used, and same traditional way of making it (versus the tank method often used in Italy). Check out www.sparklingwinos.com/canadian-sparkling-wine/
An article from Torontolife.com written in 2012 made a similar argument that France is the closest comparison regarding how the grapes are grown and made into bubbly. They make the point that the main difference between the two lay in Canada’s absence of multiple generation old vineyards.
Ultimately, though there seems to be many comparisons to it’s French counterpart, I am still not completely sure how it tastes in comparison, and every brand/grape variety would all differ. I am content knowing that Ontario Sparkling is unique in its own flavour and easier on the wallet. As with all the cocktails in Let’s Get Fizzical, it is likely I will usually be adding flavours, meaning the distinction of the sparkling wine itself will be less important.
I would recommend grabbing Let’s Get Fizzical if you do a lot of entertaining! Or if you are heading to a holiday party it might make a fun gift for the hostess who has everything.