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Sparkling Red Wine

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What is Sparkling Red Wine?

Hardly a new phenomenon, sparkling red wine has been bubbling along ever since the times of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, romancing couples or anyone who wants to liven up a meal or a night on the town. They're also far more complex than those popularized in the 1970s and 1980s. It's high time to uncover what's new.

First, you should know the range of sparkling red wines is astounding. Some are famous for their sweetness, like the Lambrusco of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Even within the Lambrusco category, you'll find the flavor will span from candy tart and floral to tannic and bone dry (secco).

One of the sweetest sparkling red wines you'll encounter is also Italian. Produced in the Piedmont region of Italy from Brachetto grapes, Brachetto d'Acqui is candy-sweet to the palate, though only around 5% ABV. You'll note flavors like strawberry and florals, amongst others. You may want to try a Barbera Frizzante for a full-bodied, semi-sparkling experience from the same region.

Speaking of Brachetto, it's also the only grape variety allowed to make the very bubbly spumante red wine, semi-sparkling (frizzante), spumante red wine, and Acqui DOCG Rosé, and passito (raisin wine).

Never underestimate the impact of climate temperatures on flavor. Warmer environments tend to create a more full-bodied, complex sparkling wine, which is why the bold southern Italian Aglianico red wine grape is relied upon in blending Cabs and Merlots. Aglianico Spumante Rosso (rose'), is one sparkler that must be tried as it faithfully retains the musky berry characteristics from these Mediterranean grapes.

Although less of a pop star than Brachetto d'Acqui, Freisa di Chieri describes the red wines made from the postcard-perfect black-skinned, Freisa grapes. They are grown around the town of Chieri, also in Italy's Piedmont region, and used to make red wines in both frizzante and spumante. Until the 20th century, it was the most widely planted variety in the Torino province.

How is Sparkling Red Wine made?

Funny enough, the Ancient Greeks and Romans couldn't understand where the fizz came from in their sparkling wines, so they often concluded the bubbles were caused by phases of the moon or perhaps evil spirits.

Thankfully, humankind learned the culprit is those mischievous fermentation steps. Today, it occurs with great intent and strict control. At second fermentation, the winemaker typically uses one of three methods to carbonize the red wine before bottling...and voila! A new fizzy red wine is born!

Where does Sparkling Red Wine come from?

Sparkling wines are mostly produced in Australia, United States, Hungary, Italy, France. In 'The Land Down Under,' they're usually made from the Shiraz grape, and Italy will always esteem its sparkling wines of the Lambrusco grape.

Head to Australia, and you'll see how thrilled Aussies are about Sparkling Shiraz, traditionally relished before dinnertime. Compared to other sparkling reds, Shiraz typically has a higher alcohol content ranging from 12.5% to 14%.

A decent sparkling Shiraz tends to be just as fruity as a regular Shiraz. Expect sweet notes of berry, licorice, and vanilla, sometimes balanced by peppery or herbal flavors popping from each bubble. Look out though — go too cheap, and you're likely to get a dull Shiraz that's even vinegary.

Fill an empty glass with Il Conte Stella Rosa Stella Black, and you'll see not all sparkling red wines are sparkly. Often, winemakers go with just a hint of fizz to focus on the rest of the notes.

Did you know, studies have found the less effervescent a wine, the slower the alcohol will hit you? Something to consider when wine shopping for dinner with the boss. Depending on timing, you may wish to save your extra-bubbly sparkling red wine for the party, date, or dinner at home.

No one will call you a wine snob for remembering this next tip. Know why sparkling wine should always be stored upright? Because if you lie the bottle down, oxygen will seep past the cork as it gets wet. That's bad news! It will spoil and get fizzy. It's also wise to store any wine in a dark, climate-controlled room about 55°F or cooler.

For the best whine-free, wine tasting, be sure you serve your sparkling red wine to guests between a chilly 39°F to 44°F regardless of the type you buy.

Browse our wide selection of Sparkling Red Wine and start exploring all this category has to offer.