If you’ve never sipped sparkling red wine before, you’re missing out.
“From luscious, sweet Lambrusco, dark fruit-driven Shiraz from down under, to bone-dry red sparklers from the Greek mountains, fizzy reds run the gamut from A to Z,” says Evan Turner, sommelier at Krasi Meze and Wine in Boston.
Like sparkling white wines, bubbly reds are the result of double fermenting still red wine, when carbon dioxide is added to create the stylistic fizz. There is no limit as to which red varieties can become sparklers; therefore, their qualities from aroma to palate are as varied as the grapes used to produce them. Even so, “the explosion of bubbles in the mouth and the creamy texture and finish of fine tannins changes the wine dramatically” from the first fermentation result, according to Mick Schroeter, head winemaker at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards.
An Australian native who lives in California, Schroeter says that when he worked at Geyser Peak in Sonoma Valley, he produced a sparkling Shiraz that was only available at the tasting room. Sparkling red wine is extremely popular in his home country, he says, but for many of the guests he served in Sonoma, it was a foreign concept.
“My rough polling of customers showed 30% loved it, 20% hated it and the rest just didn’t know what the heck to make of it,” says Schroeter. “Very few sparkling reds are produced here in the U.S.”
Drinkers familiar with sparkling red wines often associate the style with sweet Lambruscos, says Julia Prestia, owner of Venturini Baldini in Reggio Emilia, Italy. That type of Lambrusco was the top-selling imported wine in the U.S. throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Prestia blames these lesser quality wines for tarnishing the reputation of Lambrusco, and thus, the reputation of sparkling wine as a whole.