Give These Sparkling Reds a Try

Pair with soft cheese or enjoy as an aperitif

Michael Kwas

Michael Kwas

Sparkling red wines have a bad reputation. Mass-produced Lambrusco isn’t the only culprit; most on the market are overly sweet and imbalanced, with little substance. Yet this wine style is enjoyed throughout the wine-drinking world and has a special place within the cuisine of eastern Europe and the Slavic lands. Its defining characteristic is really its limpidity; sparkling reds are merely darker than rosés. Nevertheless, you can expect abundant fruit, with softer and creamier textures than other sparklers. At the table, they’re terrific as aperitifs and with first courses; they’re also fun wines to enjoy kicking back with some soft cheeses.   

Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey-Cerdon, France, $22.50
Flavors of strawberries, so clean and taut, like a sparkling Beaujolais. It’s a favorite among restaurant folks, who love to party with this one.           

Rosa Regale Brachetto, Italy, $17
Lightly effervescent and low in alcohol, this is full of flowery charm, like a red Moscato d’Asti. Try serving a glass before and after dinner, and make sure there’s a chocolate or two.

Chiarli “Fondatore Lambrusco,” Italy, $18
The real deal—frothy, uncompromising Lambrusco. It’s a must-try with prosciutto. 

Bleasdale Shiraz “The Red Brute,” Australia, $18.50
With intense berry flavors and a modicum of sweetness, this wine is juicy and fun. It’s lovely with a wide variety of cheeses and perfect for the hot tub.       

Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

Read more Off the Vine columns here.

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