As we know, sparkling rosé is now made commonly throughout the world, however sparkling red remains a rare animal. And by red, we are talking about wines that look like deeply coloured Shiraz red wine but with bubbles. While there are very few regions that have made a name for themselves with sparkling reds these are actually wines that can be astonishingly good, not only as standalone wines but also as partners for a range of dishes.
Sparkling red wines, as with other Champagne and Sparkling wines, are made in two different ways. The first is the classic traditional method, as is seen in Champagne. However, red sparkling wine has a secondary ferment in the bottle on its yeast lees which gives the final wine not only much greater savoury complexity but also a very fine, silky bead, illustrated by thin ribbons of bubbles. This is how the best Australian sparkling Shiraz is produced.
Sparkling reds can also be made with the tank method, as is seen in the cheaper versions of Italian Lambrusco. These wines are fermented in tanks rather than bottles with little or no yeast aging which makes for a more fruit-forward wine style, lacking in the more savoury barrel-fermented complexity. These can still be delicious wines but are never among the best sparkling reds.
Of the sparkling reds around the world, Italian Lambrusco is no doubt the most famous, as it was at one time the biggest-selling imported wine in the United States. It is made in Northern Italy, in the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy, some areas of which are also famous for the production of Parmesan cheese, which it unsurprisingly matches beautifully with. These wines have good acidity with balanced sweetness and the fruit character of freshly picked dark cherries with a touch of dried herbs.
Potentially the greatest sparkling red wines in the world are Australian sparkling Shiraz, particularly from Great Western. Here long yeast lees aging of spicy Shiraz creates powerful yet complex wines, which in the best examples, can age well for decades.