Sparkling Red Wine
Sparkling red wine isn't good wine, is it? Its just a bad wine for sissies isn't it?
Now hold on a moment! Not so fast! There are actually some sparkling red wines which are great!
Now everyone knows that white sparkling wines like Champagne can be great. People think of bubbly like Dom Perignon and Cristal and think of class, sophistication and elegance. So how did bubbly red get such a bad rep?I think that one bad wine poisoned the waters in the US for all other fizzy reds. Remember Riunite Lambrusco? You can still find it on the shelves of cheap liquor stores and markets. It is a bubbly red from Italy but happens to be from a bad producer who had a huge marketing scheme to get it into the minds of us Americans. Something like "Riunite on ice, so nice!" or something along those lines. The problem is that Riunite is insipid, mass produced plonk which is too sweet and therefore cloying and just pretty nasty to the palate of people who appreciate fine wine.
But don't run screaming yet! Riunite is a bad sparkling red, but that doesn't mean there aren't good ones out there! In parts of Europe, particularly in Italy, people drink tons of refreshing red sparklers. So what wines am I talking about and what are they like? Here is an introduction to some of the more famous examples:
Lambrusco - Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine traditionally produced in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy. While Riunite is a Lambrusco, it is a poor example and does not represent what good Lambrusco is capable of. Good Lambrusco has bright, fresh berry fruit with a good zing of acidity and light fizz which makes it a great aperitif on a hot summer day. It is also amazingly good with food, particularly appetizers, antipasta and the like. I was actually amazed recently by its versatility as it paired great with pernil al horno, a Puerto Rican baked pork shoulder dish that I thought no wine could tame and I'd have to resort to beer. Most red sparklers, Lambrusco included, are not as high pressure as most Champagne. Instead, they have a pleasing prickle of bubbles which the Italians call frizzante, similar to many Prosecco. Served chilled, they can be so fresh, refreshing, lively and fun.
Brachetto d'Acqui - Another great example of sparkling red wine is this fizzy from Northern Italy's Piedmont region, known most famously for its powerful and age-worthy reds made from the Nebbiolo grape. Brachetto, the name of the grape, grown in Acqui is usually bottled slightly sparkling, like Lambrusco, and usually has a slight sweetness to it. However, the sweetness is usually well balanced the bright acidity and fizziness, keeping it fresh and lively. The best examples are charming and quite aromatic.
Vin du Bugey-Cerdon - The Jura region in France is little known in the US. And this fun sparkler is one of the least known wines from the Jura. But you can increasingly find good examples here as well! Generally made mostly from Gamay, other grapes grown in the region, such as Poulsard and Chardonnay, are sometimes blended in a bit. This fizzy wine is generally not dark red like Lambrusco and Brachetto can be. Instead, it tends more toward the dark rosé hue, so some people may argue that this is in fact a rosé, not a red. However you classify it, it can be another great example of a darker fizzy wine which is charming and delicious and pairs well with many foods.
Other Red Sparklers - There are several other examples of red sparkling wines from various regions around the world. Italy is responsible for many, from various regions. Portugal makes some. You can even find sparkling Shiraz from Australia!
So keep an eye out for these fun sparkling wines. Just because Riunite sucks, doesn't mean they all do! In fact, it is hard to think of a wine that is as much fun and as refreshing. Give them a try and you'll find that they deserve a place in your wine drinking repertoire!
Done with the Sparkling Red Wine page?
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