Meet The Sparkling Winos

Since I’ve come across the Sparkling Wino’s account , I’ve been enamoured!

I love their enthusiasm, their knowledge and most importantly how they promote Canadian wines! When I reached out to them (Jeff and Mike) for an interview, they we’re kind enough to say yes! I so enjoyed their answers and definitely learned something new! (I’m now on the hunt for Nova Scotia Sparkling)!

Pop some bubbly and enjoy!

(Unofficial Question – How many bottles of sparkling are in your fridge at the moment? – just curious haha) 

Three! You gotta be prepared for any occasion! 😜 There are two bottles of Cava and one bottle of Franciacorta in there right now. Also a couple bottles of (still) Ontario rosé… I mean, it’s summer after all! 😎 

First wine “AH – HA” moment. Was there a particular bottle or experience that was a game changer for you?

Jeff: Ohh, good question! In terms of sparkling I’d have to say that Hinterland Wine Co. in Prince Edward County was (and still is) a game changer for me. We visited for the first time back in 2011 and I was really inspired by the fact that their entire production was dedicated to producing premium sparkling wines here in Ontario. We tasted through their full suite of wines and all of them were fantastic. That was a real “ah-ha” moment… seeing that Ontario really can produce exceptional sparkling wines in a very broad range of styles. Hinterland are always experimenting with different methods and grape varietals to create something new and uniquely Ontario… and I love that! 


Mike: This one is hard to answer, but I had a moment in 2009 where I had a glass of Champagne followed by a glass of Prosecco and I distinctly remember thinking about how totally different each wine was was. Being the nerd that I am, I started to research the difference and you can say that’s where it all began…


What country do you think has the most underrated sparkling?

Jeff: Canada! I’m very passionate about Canadian sparkling wine and that was a big part of why we began this Sparkling Winos project – to get the word out about the amazing wines bubbling up right in our backyard. We’d constantly have friends and family asking us for recommendations, so one day we were like “Hmm… maybe we should start a blog?” Since then our exposure to Canadian sparkling wines has increased dramatically and I’m even more of an advocate for them now.


Mike: This one is a tie for me! Canada (and particularly Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia) because our market is largely local and exporting is complex and difficult. Internationally we do not have a major presence and not a lot of people know about the amazing sparkling wines being produced in Canada. Bringing some awareness to Canada’s wines has been a surprising (and amazing!) part of the Sparkling Winos project. Outside of Canada, I would say South Africa has some amazing Method Cap Classique wines that are also not widely known and are of exceptional value. 


Last sparkling wine you both drank, and what was the occasion?

Jeff: I’ll let Mike take this one!… Mike: Bollinger Rosé Champagne, for me 33rd birthday last weekend in Chicago! It’s become a tradition to have Bolli on my birthday!


If you had to pick: traditional method or charmat?

Jeff: Traditional method is my preference, but I firmly believe that both styles deserve a spot in your fridge. Saturday night you might want something light and fruity, and at a Sunday dinner you might want something rich and complex. That’s why I love sparkling wine. It’s a whole other category with such a broad range of styles – there is literally something for every palate, mood or occasion!


Mike: Traditional method, without hesitation. That being said, there is a place and time for a delicious fruit-forward and aromatic charmat method sparkling wine. Whether it’s on a patio, at the cottage, with a great meal or for a special occasion, there’s nothing wrong with a great Prosecco Superiore or locally produced charmat method sparkling!


Dream wine region vacation spot? 

Jeff: We’ve been lucky enough to visit the Champagne region of France, the Prosecco region of Italy, and the Cava region of Spain. But the next one of my bucket-list is definitely Nova Scotia! As I mentioned before we’re really big on Canadian bubbles, and I’ve heard so many great things coming from the East Coast. You’ve probably heard this story, but the 2004 Brut Reserve by Benjamin Bridge placed higher than a Louis Roederer 2004 Cristal at a blind tasting in France! Incroyable!

Mike: This might be cliche, but Champagne takes the cake! Between the landscape, champagne houses, the beautiful city of Reims and the countless bottles of bubbly, the region is simply a dream. I happened to spend a very memorable 28th birthday there, and am itching to go back!


Is there a sparkling wine which is still on your list to try?

Jeff: Oh gosh, my list reads like a dictionary at this point! Definitely a lot of the super premium Champagnes. I’m really interested to try more English sparkling wines too, but they’re very hard to find in our market. I get a kick out of the obscure stuff. They’re making sparkling wine all over the world now. I just read a glowing review about Chandon’s winery in India!


Mike: Oh, are there ever! Off of the top of my head, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Brut and a few of the amazing sparkling wines being produced by Benjamin Bridge in Nova Scotia. Luckily we’re going out that way in August so it’s one thing off the list!


In your opinion, best value pick on the market right now? (in Ontario)

Jeff: It’s so tough to pick one, but I’d have to say anything from Kew Vineyards. Their 2010 Rosalie is just stunning, and is aged on its lees for 6 years. It’s an incredible value at $29.95. You can’t go wrong with anything from Kew in my opinion.


Mike: Château des Charmes Brut Méthode Traditionelle VQA, priced at $24.95 in the general list of the LCBO, is exceptional value for Ontario sparkling wine. 


Fav food pairing for bubbles?

Jeff: My favourite is McDonald’s French Fries! 🙊 There’s just something fun about pairing sparkling wine (which is synonymous with elegance) with junk food! You can go from oysters… to McDonalds! That shows how versatile it is.


Mike: No questions: truffle frites. All day, every day.


Any innovative ways you’ve enjoyed your sparkling? fun cocktail recipes? (Spritz Aperol-esque or frosé concoctions you’ve experimented with)

Jeff: Yes! We experiment with sparkling wine in cocktails all the time on our blog (we call them “Mimosa Hacks”). We’re always up for a challenge. My favourite cocktail is a blood orange margarita, and I love to add a little bit of Prosecco to it. The “spritz” makes it extra refreshing and perfect for summer.


Mike: Recently we came up with a Mimosa recipe on our blog featuring Kavi Whisky (which is a Canadian whisky infused with cold brew coffee) and let me tell you… it goes together perfectly with a dry charmat sparkling and a splash of cherry juice. Such a great (and surprising) mimosa hack!


Finally, I know you’re all about the bubbles but what table wine are you most excited by at the moment?

Jeff: We had a chance to taste a bunch of skin-fermented white wines (“orange wines”) recently which was interesting. The jury is still out on that category for me. But we had one from Norman Hardie that I loved and thought would be absolutely delicious with a charcuterie board. Although this time of year I’m all about Rosé in the backyard, and I really love what Trius and Back 10 Cellars are doing in that department.


Mike: Good question! Since it’s the summer, I’m a sucker for rosé and I have to say, the JP Azeitão Shiraz Rose Bacalhoa from Portugal is an insane value at just under $9 a bottle. It’s quite dry, and  when served chilled, is the perfect wine to bring to the cottage or for a backyard picnic.

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