Sales of sparkling wines in the UK have increased 76% in the past five years and it doesn’t look like the bubble is going to burst any time soon. Whereas costly champagne (read our ultimate guide to champagne here) is, for most of us, only for special occasions, prosecco has led the trend, offering cheap and cheerful fizz we can afford.
Sparkling red wines are less well known, but they are becoming popular among savvy drinkers who want something a bit more feisty from their glass. Many regions that make sparkling white wine will make bubbly red as well, though generally in far smaller quantities, which is why they’re a bit harder to find.
Most of us are familiar with lambrusco, although for many it means something cheap and sweet. Proper lambrusco is something else altogether – made in northern Italy, it’s dark and savoury but weighs in at a relatively modest 11% ABV.
The Australians are very fond of fizzy shiraz (aka syrah), turning that beefy, peppery grape into bold and burly sparkling wines that often ripple with underlying sweetness but, when well balanced, can be sublime. They’re a versatile multitasker, suiting rich and meaty dishes as well as being surprisingly good with chocolate.
Spread your sparkling wine wings and choose red instead of white. It makes a gratifying choice in winter, refreshing (it’s best served chilled) yet also warming, and it’s pretty sexy stuff so is great for Valentine’s Day if you want to treat your sweetheart/you to sparkles with a difference.
Brachetto is a red grape from Piedmont and here makes a delightful wine, slightly sweet with a strawberries-and-cream prettiness and only 5.5% ABV. It makes a lovely aperitif and would also be fab with our chocolate and passion fruit layer cake.
Vinho Verde is Portugal’s largest wine region as well as the name of its gently sparkling wines. Most of its wines are white but it also makes gorgeous fresh reds such as this one – try it with this chorizo and butter bean stew.