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Developed and perfected in Champagne, this method earned bubbly its international fanbase. It involves taking a bottle of still wine and adding the ingredients – namely, yeast and sugar – to jump-start a second fermentation right there in the bottle. The second fermentation produces carbon dioxide, and voila: bubbles! After some cellar time, the lees (spent yeast) are removed and thus traditional-method bubbly is born. Depending on said cellar time, the finished wine will show complex toasty and pastry notes along with the fruit. Since its rise to fame in France, this style of bubbly has been adopted around the globe, yet only wines from the eponymous region can be called Champagne.
Most famously associated with Italian Prosecco though embraced worldwide, the tank method differs from the traditional approach in that the second fermentation occurs not in the bottle but in a pressurized stainless-steel tank. Whereas the traditional method can take months or years, the tank method creates fizz in a matter of weeks. The absence of cellar time on the lees means the finished wine is all about pure, fresh fruit character.
Short for pétillant naturel (natural sparkling) and often synonymous with the “ancestral method” developed in France even before the traditional method, pét nat is all the rage these days. Whereas the traditional method removes the lees before shipping the wine to customers, pét nat leaves the lees in the bottle as part of the finished fizz. This approach creates the toasty, earthy, pleasantly funky characteristics so beloved by fans of the style.
Chill it, pair it, serve it
Sparkling wine is typically enjoyed chilled to around 8-10°C, which highlights the wine’s zippy, food-friendly acidity. Classic pairings for fizz include oysters, caviar, lobster Newberg, triple-cream cheeses, and traditional turkey dinner, while more modern matches include potato chips, buttered popcorn, fish tacos, fish and chips, seafood or veggie tempura, and fried chicken. Glassware trends tend to rise and fall with fashion, but a good rule of thumb is that narrow-topped flutes preserve bubbles longer whereas wide-topped glasses present more aromas. Either way, a stemmed glass will keep your fingers from prematurely warming the wine.
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