$15 or less
WHAT : Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (sparkling white)
WHERE: Penedes, Spain
WHY: It's New Year's Eve and you're sitting by yourself watching Ryan Seacrest. Time for a bottle of Cava, Spain's hugely successful sparkling dry white wine. Segura is inexpensive compared to champagne, and with its citrusy, bracing tang and fine mousse (bubbles), it's a great cork launcher.
PRICE: 750 ml/$14
AVAILABILITY: At most LCBO outlets (product #158493)
RATING : NNNN
WHAT : Pol Roger Extra Brut Cuvée de Reserve Champagne (sparkling white)
WHERE : Champagne, France
WHY : Ed Norton had it right when he declared, "Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends." Pol Roger's non-vintage brut (dry) is a great introduction to this lifestyle drug. Citrus, baking and florals are all there, all wonderfully balanced. With this wine, the pleasure grows as the bottle flows.
PRICE: 750 ml/$45.95 until January 1
AVAILABILITY: At most LCBO outlets. (product #51953)
Sips and nips
WHAT: McAuslan St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (beer)
WHERE: Montreal, Quebec
WHY: You don't have to go to Ireland to get good stout. McAuslan's has what you need. It's soft and creamy, with toasty-fruity qualities and has a fine froth, making it closer to champagne than you might think. That's why a Black Velvet - champagne (or more sanely, Cava) and stout mixed half and half - is a cocktail classic.
PRICE: 6 x 341 ml/$12.25, including deposit
AVAILABILITY: The Beer Store and limited LCBO outlets
RATING : NNN