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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sparkling Red(!) Wine

"Serious" sparkling wines were clear or had a slight salmon color. Then pink bubblies got popular and serious, too (they weren't all sweet and syrupy). How about sparkling red wines? Yes, there is such a thing!

Maybe you remember Riunite Lambrusco, a sweet, syrupy, cheap, slightly bubbly red wine that was very popular 30 or 40 years ago. It's been the butt of jokes amongst the wine snobs. Currently there's a bit of a resurgence for dry, food friendly red sparkling wine.

The bubbles in a wine come from a second fermentation. The first, or primary, fermentation changes the sugars to alcohol and releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as a byproduct. To make a sparkling wine a little yeast and sugar is added back and the wine is capped to keep the CO2 in the wine creating the bubbles. You can do this to any wine not just one that's light in color. Until recently sparkling reds never had much cred in the U.S.

In California Korbel has been making a Rouge sparkling wine for years. The Australians will do anything with their "national grape," Shiraz/Syrah, including making sparkling wines. Domaine Chandon and Mumm Napa are experimenting to see consumer reaction. In Sonoma County you occasionally find a dry sparkling Zinfandel or Syrah. Harvest Moon and Paradise Ridge are two wineries I'm aware of having sparkling reds.

What? You say that looks weird?
Besides Italy, Australia, and California sparkling reds are made in France and Portugal (and other places), but these wine are hard to find in the U.S. From Italy there are numerous frizzante (slightly fizzy) red wines made from Lambrusco that aren't overly sweet so you can try one with your next pizza.

What do you do with a sparkling red wine? Serve it chilled. Serve it on a hot day in place of a red wine. Let's say you're grilling up some burgers on a 90 degree day and you don't quite feel like a heavy Syrah. This might be a place for a chilled red bubbly.

Disclaimer: I work for a winery mentioned above