All That Sparkles is Not Gold (or Pink)

All That Sparkles is Not Gold (or Pink)

When we think of sparkling wine, our thoughts focus on a coupe, flute or tulip glass, partially filled with a light to medium-gold wine, with bubbles rising in a stream to the top. Or perhaps, you think of a pink bubbly. City Vino is here to tell you that All That Sparkles is Not Gold (or Pink). Red sparkling wine exists, and has its place in your glass and on the table.

Sparkling rosé wine are wines made from red grapes, where there is little to no contact between the skins of the grape and the grape juice, so the color is pale and delicate. The longer you keep the red grape skins in contact with the grape juice, the greater the amount of pigment that will emerge and the wine will be darker. If that is the only difference, why aren’t there more red sparkling wines made? The reason is that, along with the pigment comes tannins from the skins, and there isn’t a big calling for sparkling wine that dries your mouth out like the Sahara Desert.

Red sparkling wines are usually made from red grapes that are fruitier, and have low amounts of tannins for that very reason. Also, keep in mind that chilling wine enhances the tannins, and bubbly is usually served well-chilled. Grapes used to produce sparkling red wines include Lambrusco, Brachetto, Zweigelt, Barbera, Freisa, Bonarda, and Shiraz. (Author’s side note: I’ve had a lightly sweet red Norton sparkling from Virginia, and a sparkling Petit Verdot from Long Island. The Petit Verdot was not served cold, as the tannins would have been overwhelming. It was both interesting and fascinating.)

For this week’s tasting at City Vino, we introduce you to some red sparkling wines, and one non-sparkling wine to round out the tasting. The first wine, which is the non-sparkling red, is the 2014 Vina Cantaluna Shiraz, from the Colchagua Valley, in Chile. This is a full-bodied red, with aromas and flavors of dark black fruit, smoke, leather, black pepper, and some red fruits, like cherries. This wine would pair nicely with rich meats like beef dishes, lamb, game meats, or even poultry.

Next up in our tasting, and the first of our sparkling red wines, is the 2020 Parolvini Sangue di Giuda dell'Oltrepo Pavese, from Lombardy, in Italy, This wine is made from 60 percent Croatina, 30 percent Barbera, and 30 percent Uva Rara. This vibrant, effervescent wine is soft and fragrant, with a nose and palate of jam made from red fruits.

Another sparkling red is the 2019 Fracchia Voulet Malvasia D'Asti from Piedmont, in Italy. This off-dry sparkling red is made from the Malvasia de Casorzo grape. The prominent aromas and flavors show strawberries, blueberries, and grapes, along with floral hints of roses. An enjoyable wine to sip or to pair with a pork roast.

The last of our red sparkling wines is the 2018 Little Bosco Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco, also from the Piedmont region. The wine is 100 percent Malvasia Nera, and has aromatics of fresh strawberries and raspberries and again, rose petals. Flavors include tart raspberries, red apples, and passion fruit with a light fizz. This wine can be served with a dessert that isn’t super sweet, but would also pair with beef, pasta, lamb, and venison.

As an overall comment, Italy is known for producing sparkling reds, due to the vast diversity in native grapes and those that have lower tannins with fruit profiles. Our suggestion is to try any of the sparkling reds with pizza—especially with a spicy pepperoni or hot peppers.

We hope you will join us this Friday and Saturday, to see firsthand that All That Sparkles is Not Gold (or Pink).


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