It’s the season to sparkle and shine. The sun is shining and we have a huge selection of sparkling wine to choose from, right here in B.C.
While we’ve been growing wine grapes in B.C. since the mid-nineteenth century, it’s only been since the latter half of the 20th century that B.C. expanded its wine-making efforts and made an impact on the world stage. Back then, as with many wineries now, the traditional method of creating bubbles in wine was used. This method involves a secondary fermentation that happens within the bottles themselves.
Back then, sparkling wine in B.C. was mostly made with Chardonnay. That quickly changed and winemakers expanded to use other grape varieties such as Pinot Meunier, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Riesling and more.
Champagne can only be called Champagne when it comes from the Champagne region in northern France. Anything else is sparkling wine. The same can also be argued for Prosecco, which comes from specific regions of Italy.
People Love the Bubbles
While Germany has the highest level of sparkling wine consumption in the world, there is a worldwide increase in those falling in love with the effervescence and fun associated with sparkling wines.
Here in Canada, our consumption of sparkling wine has increased year over year. So much so that as a whole, we purchased and/or drank almost twenty-five million litres of it. And there’s a good reason for that. Canadian winemakers are coming out with some fabulous sparkling wines.
Giddy About Bubbly
Firstly, yes, it’s true. You will feel the effects of sparkling wines like Champagne and Prosecco faster than consuming non-effervescent wines.
Then there’s the big question: is it good for our health? The experts are as torn about that as they are about anything we put into our bodies. (Remember when eggs were bad and sugary cereals were good and part of a well-balanced breakfast?)
Of course, alcohol in excess isn’t good for you. However, when you drink one to two glasses a week, it’s been shown to increase heart circulation and reduce blood pressure. The same can also be said about red wine.
The Prosecco Effect
Not that long ago, Canadians recognized the versatility of Prosecco. This Italian wine was less expensive than Champagne, made great spritzers and mixed well in cocktails. Once you’ve had a Prosecco-based Bellini you’ll understand how great it is in a cocktail.
For some reason, it doesn’t feel wrong to drink it for brunch and lunch. Perhaps it’s because Prosecco feels like a worldly drink. As it’s made in Italy, we associate it with a place renowned for art, food and culture.
The love affair with Prosecco blazed brightly in the early twenty-first century. For every person who loved Prosecco, they told several of their friends, and those friends tried it, liked it, and told their friends. Before long Prosecco was high on the popularity scale, all because of word of mouth.
This love of Prosecco grew into a greater love for sparkling wines in B.C. and across Canada.
B.C. Sparkling Wines
Remember Baby Duck? If you don’t, you’re lucky. It was a crowd-pleaser for the younger generation back in the 1970s and 1980s. It was sweet, had bubbles and was inexpensive.
Fortunately, our wine industry has grown up since then and we now create some of
the finest sparkling wines in the world. Our wholesale sparkling wine sales have doubled since 2018, increasing 25% year over year in 2021, and in 2022 there was another
When you taste B.C. sparkling wines, you’ll understand why their popularity continues to increase. Most B.C. bubbly comes in between 10 and 12% alcohol, so it’s easy to drink. Then there’s the price point, which lies in the same range as other wines in the province.
B.C. sparkling wines are as diverse as any other wines made here. Some are fermented
in steel to produce the bubbles, others have their second ferment right in the bottle. Some are vegan-friendly and others are 100% organic. Some sparkling wines get their bubbles naturally (traditionally), and others have carbonation added. So far, all I’ve
tasted are delicious.
Styles of Sparkling
Sparkling wines come in several styles of dryness and sweetness. For comparison, a 750 bottle of Coca-Cola has 79 grams (10 Tbsps) of sugar.
Brut Nature/Naturele and Extra Brut. This is the driest of the dry you can get. If you like a nice dry wine, this is the sparkling beverage for you. Brut nature has 0-3 grams of sugar and extra brut has 0-6 grams of sugar.
Brut. This is a dry sparkling wine with no hint of sweetness. It’s the distinctive taste and style of Champagne.
Nothing sweet about this drink. It has anywhere from 0-12 grams of sugar.
Dry and Sec. Still a dry sparkling wine; however, these have some sweetness to them. Dry has 12-17 grams of sugar, while Sec is a little higher at 17-32 grams of sugar.
Demi-sec. As the name implies, this sparkling is half dry or half sweet. Whichever way you like to label it, it’s for those who like their bubbly with a good dose of sweetness. Demi-sec is 32-50 grams of sugar.
Dolce/Doux. This is a rich, sweet wine with over 5% sugar. This sparkling wine is not
at all common here in Canada. Its sugar content is above 50g and is better suited as a dessert wine.
Fortunately, many B.C. wineries now make their own sparkling wines. From the garagiste (very small lot) winemakers to the larger, more well-known wineries, I hope you find a sparkling wine to make your summer sparkle and shine.