9 best sparkling red wines
Complex and sophisticated, these are the underrated styles that deserve your attention
Sparkling red wine still has a hard time shaking off its reputation for being sweet, cheap and a bit naff. However, the latest wave of sparkling reds are anything but – complex, sophisticated and extremely versatile, these underrated styles are well overdue their time in the spotlight. Although it is still a relatively niche area of wine production, there’s so much more on offer than lambrusco (that said, lambrusco itself is having something of a revival, and we've included some of our favourites on this list).
Italy boasts the most varieties of sparkling reds, with lambrusco being the most well-known. We think it’s telling that it comes from the Emilia-Romagna region, which also happens to be the home of delicious parmigiano, parma ham and balsamic vinegar. For something sweeter and lighter that works well with fruity desserts, opt for a brachetto from Piedmont with its naturally low ABV. Over in Australia, you’ll find sparkling shiraz is drunk at everything from brunch through to barbeques. Even Portugal is getting in on the act with its refreshing baga grapes creating zesty red sparklers.
Pairing well with rich, tomato-based pasta dishes, charcuterie and stews, these wines drink well all year round. Giving red wine drinkers something to quaff come summer, and fizz fanatics another option when they’ve reached peak prosecco (which surely we have by now?), sparkling reds are the wine we’re championing this year.
Serve lightly chilled and enjoy while young – this isn’t one to be saving for a special occasion. And thanks to the mostly accessible price points (especially when compared to champagne), they needn’t be saved for best. The team at Crummbs bring you the best sparkling red wines for all occasions.
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La Battagliola Lambrusco "Dosage 15", 12%: £15, Borough Wines
Leading the lambrusco revival is this excellent example from Italian wine producer Alberto Salvadori. Suitably decadent, with dark ripe fruit and a touch of spiciness, we found it really comes into its own when paired with the right food. A plate of charcuterie will bring this alive, as will the rather less obvious but rather excellent pairing of oysters, thanks to its dry, frothy finish.
M&S Lambrusco Secco Reggiano NV, 11%: £9, Marks & Spencer
One of the best examples of lambrusco we could find from a supermarket, this is crisp and refreshing but with an exciting complexity. A blend of three grapes found in central Italy – 75 per cent salamino, 15 per cent lambrusco marani and 10 per cent ancellotta – the result is a fruity yet dry wine that’s crying out to be enjoyed with typical Italian ingredients from the same Emilia-Romagna region – think parma ham, parmesan and balsamic vinegar.
Tenuta di Aljano Settefilari Lambrusco Reggiano DOP, 11.5%: £10.99, Ocado
Jam-packed with red berries and underlying notes of dark chocolate, this is a fun wine that works just as well with Italian starters as it will with decadent desserts. Soft bubbles provide an uplifting quality which we found juicier and more moreish with each sip – just as a fine lambrusco should.
Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir South Australia, 12.5%: £14.99, Waitrose
This wine is named after the Bird in Hand gold mine in operation in the Adelaide Hills wine region of South Australia through the 1800s, an area which is now home to 80 fertile acres, ideal for growing cool-climate wines. Strawberries and cream will spring to mind from the first sip of this salmon-pink-hued vino. Clean, crisp and refreshing, try with prawn and chorizo skewers fresh from the barbeque or treat guests to a celebratory aperitif in place of champagne.
Jacob's Creek Sparkling Shiraz, 12.5%: £9.99, Ocado
If you’re new to sparkling reds, this good-value bottle is a great place to start. Awarded a bronze medal at the International Wine Challenge 2008, expect rich berries lifted with a touch of spicy pepper. Well-balanced with fine bubbles, do as the Aussies do and indulge in a bottle at brunch – your bacon and eggs will thank you for it.
Brachetto D’acqui DOCG “Braida” Red, Giacomo Bologna 2016, 5.5%: £16.50, Tanners
With such a low ABV (as is typical with brachetto) a bottle of this will disappear before you know it. Lightly sparkling and suitably sweet, this isn’t a wine that takes itself too seriously and for that reason goes down a treat with dessert. Strawberry is the dominant flavour, so try pairing with fruit sorbets or cheesecakes.
Luis Pato Baga Gota Rosé Brut Sparkling 2012, 12%: £9.99, Portugal Vineyards
Zesty and bright, this is a classic example of Portugal’s sparkling red production. The baga grape is grown on chalky soil, which results in a beautifully refreshing minerality. A good balance of sour cherries and zesty citrus, the dazzling watermelon-hued red will cut through fattier cuts of slowly roasted pork.
Ca’ de Noci Sottobosco, 11%: £28.99, Selfridges
A serious wine, produced in the famous Emilia-Romagna region, Cà de Noci is an organic winery run by two brothers, Giovanni and Alberto Masini (who also happen to run a walnut farm). The unusual blend of grasparossa and di montericco lambrusco grapes results in a savoury earthiness tempered with tart raspberry, which you don’t often find in this type of wine. We’ll be drinking ours with meatballs and spaghetti.
Blewitt Springs Estate Sparkling Shiraz, 13.5%: £14.99, The Fizz Company
Made by Italian wine producers who upped sticks and moved to Australia, here we have a flexible fizz that can be drunk chilled or at room temperature (ideal if you don’t have time to refrigerate). Created from 100 per cent shiraz grapes, it’s made in a very similar way to prosecco in order to retain its fruity flavour profile – you should be able to taste ripe blackcurrant. We’ll be enjoying ours with pepperoni pizza or barbecued ribs.
The Verdict: Sparkling red wines
The complexity and versatility of the wine from La Battagliola is so impressive that any memories of bad sparkling red will be long forgotten. It’s the sort of wine your finish without realising (you’ve been warned). Otherwise, Marks & Spencer’s lambrusco is a great price, and we adored it with antipasti.
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