What Makes Wine Sparkle?
Sparkling wine is a sparkling bubbly wine, of course! Sparkling wines have bubbles and are carbonated that can make off-dry or semi-sweet drinks. There are two techniques to produce sparkling wine's delicious fizziness: "traditional method" or "ancestral method."
"Traditional method," aka méthode traditionnelle, is, as the name implies, the more traditional method of sparkling wine production. While the wines go through the typical first fermentation to create the alcohol, these wines also go through a second fermentation where a concoction of sugar and yeast called 'liqueur de tirage' is added to the wine. Winemakers then bottle the wine, by capping the bottle with a bottle cap, like a beer bottle. During this time, the yeast begins attacking the sugar, which results in carbon dioxide being trapped in the bottle.
After the bubbles are created, the yeast residues, also known as lees, must be removed after the wine has completed the second fermentation. The method to remove lees is called disgorging, and the process begins with riddling. Riddling is when the bottles are turned downwards and lightly shaken to move the lees to the bottle's neck. This process is done gradually. Eventually, the bottles are cooled, causing the lees to freeze into a small block of ice. When the bottle is opened, the residue is removed from the bottle due to the pressure. The bottle is then filled completely to compensate for the missing space.
For the best quality sparkling wines, this process happens for several months to even a few years. When the process is complete, the cap is removed and replaced with a traditional cork and wire cage.
One thing to note is that the secondary fermentation happens in the bottle for quality wines. A lesser quality wine will have this process occur in a large tank, indicated by the word "Charmant" on the bottle.
"Ancestral Method" is also, as its name implies, the oldest method of making sparkling wine. This method diverges from the traditional method in that these wines don't go through the disgorging process. However, the wine is filtered. Typically, the wine bottles are emptied, cleaned, and refilled.
Does Good Sparkling Red Wine Even Exist?
Yes, and they are absolutely delicious! Here are the sparkling red wines you should have on your radar!
A wine typically from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, is known for its medium to high acidity, low to medium tannins, and light to medium body. The Italian wine typically has a 10.5% - 11.5% ABV, with the typical fruit flavors of Lambrusco including Rhubarb, Sour Cherry, Wild Strawberry, Boysenberry, and Blueberry.
A sparkling Shiraz is an ideal choice for a BBQ beverage. Most Sparkling Shiraz wines are produced in South Australia. These Australian grapes grow on a massive scale.
The best sparkling red wine to drink alongside chocolate, Brachetto D’Acqui, is a sweet wine that has low alcohol content. The name Brachetto is the grape variety from Piedmont, which produces wines such as Asti DOCG, that's rich with floral aromatics and has a candied flavor that's often very delicate.
California Pinot Noir
Meet Bev Noir: She’s edgy, dry, and a lil’ fizz! With delicate, coastal pinot and aromatics of citrus blossoms & fresh pomegranate, paired with a light blackberry finish. Bravissimo! *chef's kiss*
Is Sparkling Red Wine Champagne?
The only sparkling red wines that are considered champagne are produced from grapes from the Champagne wine region in France. If you have heard of French champagne, then you probably have heard of Brut and their sparkling wine creations.
To make sparkling red wine champagne, also known as Coteaux Champenois, the grapes are the same as those allowed for traditional Champagne: Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier for red wines, and Chardonnay for whites. Today, the production of red Coteaux Champenois is infrequent, so much so that only a few hundred bottles are exported to the United States annually.
Is Sparkling Red Wine Healthy?
Overall, red wine and sparkling red wine are the healthiest wine you can consume because of how they are made. When white wine is produced, grapes are pressed, and seeds, skins, and stems are removed before fermentation. With red wine, the red grapes are transferred to vats directly, and they ferment with their seeds, skins, and stems. The grape skin, from grapes such as barbera and syrah, gives the wine its color and is why red wine has a few more healthy compounds than white wine.
Grape skin comprises beneficial antioxidants that are known to promote good health and wellness. In particular, polyphenol resveratrol is the principal reason red wine has health benefits. Research implies that resveratrol may be the chief ingredient in red wine that can decrease cholesterol levels, inhibit damage to blood vessels, and create a lower risk of blood clots.
While red wine is the healthiest wine you can drink, Pinot Noir sneaks in as the number one healthiest kind of wine. Pinot Noir has the highest resveratrol concentration of any other red wine. Besides having the highest resveratrol levels, Pinot Noir also has lower sugar and calories than other wines. However, all red wines contain little to no residual sugar. But Pinot Noir has even less because it has a lower initial sugar level before fermentation. Therefore, Pinot Noir has fewer calories and lower alcohol content than other red wines.
What Do You Eat with Sparkling Red Wine?
The general rule of wine pairing, while there are a few exemptions, is that red wine pairs with red meat, and white wine pairs with white meat, fish, and seafood. But where do sparkling red wines come in? Foods with fairly intense flavors tend to match the power of these full-bodied wines. Sparkling red wine does well with foods emphasizing compounds of earth, gaminess, spice, and even black pepper. Here are some specific pairings you might like to try!
When it comes to your standard steak and bbq sauce-covered proteins, red wine is often your best bet. While Pinot Noir is incredibly versatile and always a safe option, you can easily make your meal more fun by adding a few fizzy bubbles from a sparkling Pinot Noir variety. Plus, a sparkling Shiraz is an ideal choice for a BBQ beverage.
Pork is loaded with flavor and fat, and often the sauce is so acidic that you need a wine with enough acid that can stand up to the challenge. The Italian salamino is a great pork pairing with many red wines.
Duck is often a mysterious meat for a fair amount of people. And when it comes to pairing the mysterious meat with wine, many can get very confused. Duck is a delicate and tender red meat that has similarities and flavors comparable to chicken. Therefore, the sauce and sides served alongside duck should play a significant role in the duck's overall taste and significantly influence your wine choice combination.
Grab yourself a bottle of Lambrusco, and serve it lightly chilled with lamb. Lambrusco grapes offsets fatty meats delightfully! There are different types of lambruscos such as Lambrusco di Sorbara and Lambrusco Grasparossa which have a burgundy look much like your classic Cabernet.
Brachetto d’Acqui is the perfect match with decadent, creamy chocolate desserts like chocolate cake.
Where Can I Buy Sparkling Red Wine?
You can buy sparkling red wines at most stores that sell alcohol! There you will see a variety of different sparkling wines such as Prosecco Frizzante and Moscato. So when you have your girls night out on the streets of New York you will be ready with your new found wine knowledge.