Sparkling Red Wine

Definition - What does Sparkling Red Wine mean?

Sparkling red wine is made from red grapes; their skins are added to the must for color and are then double fermented to add alcohol and introduce carbon dioxide. This is the process used to make a sparkling wine from a still red wine and has a wide range in variety.

The second fermentation enhances the flavors and tannins of the wine and is used to make adjustments in sweetness and CO2. The three most common types of Sparkling Reds include:

  • Lambrusco (driest)
  • Branchetto d’Acqui (sweetest)
  • Sparkling Shiraz (highest alcohol content)

All are best served chilled. Each type of sparkling wine can be distinguished from the others based upon their dry-sweetness range, alcohol level, amount of CO2, and/or region of production. Sparkling reds are made all over the world, originating in Germany. Now, most come from Italy, but Sparkling Shiraz wines are mass produced in Australia from inland vineyards.

WineFrog explains Sparkling Red Wine

The double fermentation process contributes greatly to Sparkling Red Wine because it allows the winemaker to adjust the base wine with sugar and yeast, which once biologically converted, turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide (bubbles). These wines also vary in carbon dioxide content measured in atmospheres of pressure, some can be very fizzy while others have lower pressure.

The Lambrusco wine can vary from dry to sweet and are labeled Secco (dry), Semi-Secco (semi dry) and Amabile/Dulce (sweet). The color can vary from dark red to pink shades and light red tones and contains a medium alcohol content, as most have between 10-11%. Lambrusco wines have a medium level of pressure between 3-5 atmospheres in comparison to Champagne, which measures at 7.

The Brachetto d’Acqui is a very sweet dessert wine and can be distinguished by it’s candy-like, rich flavor. It pairs well with desserts or, like Lambrusco, saved for the end of the meal. This wine’s sweet flavor can be attributed to it’s low alcohol content, which ranges between 5.5-6% and is mostly made in Italy.

Sparkling Shiraz (known previously as Sparkling Burgundy) wines produced mostly in southern Australia, offer an off-dry or off-sweet flavor. These wines have the highest quality range and the highest price range out of all sparkling reds due to the large quantities produced. They also have the highest alcohol content at 12.5-14% and are usually served in the morning or early afternoon.

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