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The actor William Abadie at an event for Emily in Paris, in New York, on Dec. 15, 2022.DOLLY FAIBYSHEV /The New York Times News Service

Another classic sparkling wine cocktail is back in the spotlight thanks to a celebrity endorsement. This time it’s the Kir Royale, which features prominently in the current season of Netflix’s escapist drama, Emily in Paris.

The pleasing to the eye, pleasing to the palate combination of crème de cassis liqueur and dry sparkling wine is enjoyed by the title character, Emily Cooper, at an outdoor café that overlooks the ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde. She’s just been let go from her marketing job, but a sip of pink-hued Kir Royale from her flute helps lighten the mood. Her colleague explains, it’s the “perfect drink to sip and do nothing as the ferris wheel turns.”

Whether in form of the Aperol Spritz, the Negroni Sbagliato or the Kir Royale, sparkling wine cocktails are mainstream. Unlike the Mimosa, which is cast solely as a slightly boozy brunch treat, these are flavourful and sophisticated drinks that can be enjoyed from brunch to happy hour. To my taste, they are ideal aperitifs. The Italian-rooted recipes for the Aperol Spritz and Negroni Sbagliato call upon Prosecco to contribute the effervescent and brightness. In the show, Emily discovers a Kir Royale is made from Champagne and blackcurrant liqueur, but I’ve never believed well-made Champagne needs extra flavouring.

Kir Royale’s legacy is credited to Canon Félix Kir, a French Catholic priest and mayor of Dijon who died in April, 1968. His home in Burgundy leads me to believe he would have mixed his crème de cassis with a locally produced sparkling wine, crémant de Bourgogne, which is made in the same method as Champagne from chardonnay, pinot noir and other regionally grown grapes. The drink’s sibling, Kir, mixes blackcurrant liqueur with an inexpensive white wine made from Burgundy’s aligoté grape. Perhaps it’s the lack of the effervescence, but Kir’s still cocktail doesn’t enjoy the same name recognition in France. In my travels, I’ve discovered it’s easier to request a vin blanc cassis or blanc-cassis at a bistro than risk raised eyebrows by ordering a Kir. (A lesser-known riff, the Cardinal adds blackcurrant liqueur to a dry red wine. I’m in no rush to taste this.)

My introduction to the Kir Royale came at the Niagara winery I worked as a summer student in the late 1980s. Hillebrand Estates produced ready to drink versions of Kir Royale and Kir, the sparkling version was featured as part of the tasting for every tour group that visited during the summer of 1988. These were sweeter in nature than what most bartenders would mix, but that’s another charm of this easy-to-produce cocktail. You can fine-tune the drink’s sweetness.

The suggested mix ratio for the Kir Royale or Kir is 1/2 ounce of liqueur to 2.5 oz of wine, sparkling or still. Embracing a laissez-faire attitude, I serve my Kir Royale in a white wine glass, adding a small measure of liqueur – in the absence of crème de cassis, you could use raspberry or pomegranate liqueurs; local wineries often promote using icewine for a Canadian take on Kir Royale – that’s topped with sparkling wine usually inexpensive crémant or Cava. The bubbles mix the liqueur into the wine so. The wider bowl of the white wine glass makes it easier to appreciate the cocktail’s aroma and flavour, but you can follow Emily’s lead and sip from a flute while you picture yourself sitting near the Champs-Élysées taking in the sights while the ferris wheel revolves gracefully.

Be mine: Six wines to savour or share this Valentine’s Day

Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne (France), $22.95

Rating:89 /100

This is a terrific introduction to the fresh and fruity charms of crémant de Bourgogne. The base wine is made from a blend of chardonnay, aligoté, pinot noir and gamay, which contributes to the easygoing appeal of a sparkling wine that offers pleasing citrus, peach and honey notes as part of its refreshing character. Drink now. Available at the above price in Ontario, $29.99 in British Columbia, $21.50 in Quebec.

Casal di Serra Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2020 (Italy), $19.95

Rating:92 /100

This crisp and refreshing white wine is from organic verdicchio grapes grown in the Montecarotto vineyard and other sites in Marche. The real appeal is the texture and precision on the palate, which adds substance to the fresh character. Drink now-2027. Available in Ontario at the above price, $21.99 in British Columbia, $19.90 in Quebec,

El Esteco 1946 Old Vines Malbec 2021 (Argentina), $25.95

Rating:92 /100

Made with malbec grapes grown on old vines from the winery’s Las Mercedes estate in Cafayate, which were planted in 1946 and trained in the pergola style that was common at the time. This is an expressive and structured red, with a refreshingly complex character despite its unoaked nature. Nice and concentrated dark fruit and savoury spice notes shine here, making this an enjoyable red to drink now or stow away in the cellar. Organic. Drink now-2031. Available in Ontario at the above price, $29.97 in British Columbia,

La Linda Malbec 2021 (Argentina), $12.95

Rating:88 /100

The back label of this impressive red from the family-owned Luigi Bosca winery in Mendoza, Argentina suggests La Linda means “The Beautiful.” The malbec grapes come from the picturesque La Linda estate in the Lujan de Cuyo region in Mendoza, by the foothills of the Andes Mountains, resulting in a fresh and fruity style of wine, with appealing red fruit floral notes. Drink now-2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta.

Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (United States), $35.95

Rating:91 /100

This rich and rewarding red wine is produced from grapes from Rodney Strong’s estate vineyards in Alexander Valley, which is in northeast Sonoma County where a warm climate coaxes the best from cabernet sauvignon grapes. A classic steakhouse red, this has layers of dark fruit flavours with robust vanilla and chocolate notes from extensive oak aging.

Drink now-2028. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta, $37.49 in Prince Edward Island.

Viña Real Crianza 2019 (Spain), $19.95

Rating:88 /100

This tempranillo-based red blend is produced with grapes grown in Rioja Alavesa, the smallest sub-region in Rioja, which is well-known for the quality of its red and white wines. Tempranillo is the most widely planted grape in this area, typically producing fruity and approachable styles of wine like this well-balanced Crianza. Time spent in French and American oak barrels adds to the structure, the savoury depth of flavour and length of the aftertaste. Drink now-2026. Available in Ontario at the above price, $24.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $16.15 in Quebec, $22.99 in New Brunswick.

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