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What you need to know about sparkling red wine

Love red wine? Love sparkling wine? We’re here to combine those two and teach you a little something about the world of sparkling reds.

February 02, 2022

Love red wine? Love sparkling wine? We’re here to combine those two and teach you a little something about the world of sparkling reds.

Sparkling red wines are an unknown variety of the wine world for many people. With sparkling red wines popping up on more and more wine lists, it could be time to consider expanding your palate from your usual prosecco to something a little different. Here’s the skinny on these bubbly reds.

What is sparkling red wine?

At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s red wine that’s well - sparkling. Sparkling reds go through two fermentation processes. While it’s fermenting, the wine sits with its skins for a bit, which gives the wine its red color. The longer it sits with its skins, the deeper the color. During its second fermentation is where sparkling wine gets its bubbles.

Types of red wine

Blanc de noirs

We talked about this a bit in our Champagne and sparkling wine guide, but blanc de noirs is French for ‘white from black’. These are sparkling wines made with either pinot noir, pinot meunier or both grape varieties. Nothing else. These wines are rich in flavor with notes of red berries and vanilla. These wines are only with their skins for a bit, which gives blanc de noirs sparkling wines a pink hue.

Characteristics of blanc de noirs sparkling wines:

  • Medium to high acidity
  • Low tannins
  • Medium body
  • 12-13% ABV
  • Dry - semi-sweet
  • Lambrusco

    Lambrusco is both the name of this wine variety and the name of the grape it’s made from. Lambrusco is a low alcohol, fruit forward wine that’s super easy to drink. This makes it considered a ‘breakfast wine’ for those who like a glass of red with their pancakes. Basically this is an anytime of day kind of wine. There are over sixty types of Lambrusco grapes, but four are considered superior. These varieties are:
  • Lambrusco Salamino: sweet with notes of strawberry and raspberry
  • Lambrusco Maestri: dry
  • Lambrusco di Sorbara: light
  • Lambrusco Grasparossa: bold  with fruity flavors of blackberry and cherry
  • These wines are made in four zones of the Emilia Romagna region, and one in Lombardy. Here's the names of those regions:
  • Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
  • Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce
  • Lambrusco Reggiano
  • Lambrusco di Sorbara
  • Lambrusco Mantovano
  • Sweet lambrusco is a winner with desserts. Dry is great for pairing with heavier dinners like pizza or burgers. Light lambrusco has a low tannin level and fruitier tastes of strawberry and raspberry. Then we have bold, which has medium tannins and more fruity flavors with blackberry and cherry.

    Characteristics of lambrusco wines:

  • Medium to high acidity
  • Low to medium tannin
  • Light to medium body
  • 10-11.5% ABV
  • Sweet - dry
  • Brachetto d’Acqui

    Brachetto d’Acqui is produced in the Piedmont region of Italy. All wines certified as this variety are produced with 100% brachetto grapes and typical flavors are rose, cherry, and blackberry. This is lighter, sweet sparkling wine that goes great with dessert. It’s also lower in ABV, so go ahead and have that extra glass you’ve been thinking about.

    Characteristics of brachetto d’Acqui

  • Medium to high acidity
  • Low tannin
  • Light body
  • 5.5-6% ABV
  • Sweet
  • Sparkling shiraz

    Just like lambrusco, shiraz (or syrah as it’s also commonly called) is both a type of red wine and a grape variety. Sparkling shiraz is often a sparkling red with the varietal characteristics of a regular shiraz. It pairs well with meats and dishes with a little tang and spice, like BBQ.

    Characteristics of shiraz:

  • Medium acidity
  • Medium tannin
  • Medium body
  • 12 - 15% ABV
  • Sweet to off dry
  • How to serve sparkling red wine

    Like all sparkling wines, sparkling reds should be served chilled. The key however is to not serve it so cold that the flavor gets muted. Try putting it in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving to get it to the right temperature. You can also substitute sparkling reds in classic champagne cocktails to spice up the recipe.
  • Shop sparkling red wine