Private Tasting: Red Sparklers

By Kori ~ September 15th, 2008.

We enjoy trying new wines and treating ourselves to different things to keep our wine journey interesting. One of our recent double-blind private tastings featured wines that may be both new and different to you. While we have enjoyed red sparkling wines before, our experience with them is definitely limited. Yes, I said red sparkling wines. Not white as is most common or even rose. Both of these wines were definitely red. We chose to enjoy them as after-dinner drinks, but you could certainly have red sparklers before dinner, during dinner, or even all by themselves as well. When we poured our glasses, it was obvious that these wines were red and bubbly, but we did not know their region of origin or varietal. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer back to my Private Tasting: Rioja post.

Between these two red sparklers, we definitely had a clear favorite. When we pulled off the sacks to reveal what we had been drinking, we found a Brachetto d’ Acqui from Italy and a Sparkling Shiraz from Australia. The 2005 Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui easily beat the NV The Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz. Given how much we Wine Peeps enjoy Shiraz and sparkling wine, we were disappointed in this Sparkling Shiraz.

If you’ve never had a red sparkler, I highly encourage you to give one a try. And the Banfi is a great place to start.

2005 Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui (Piedmont, Italy): Bright red with aromas of rhubarb pie. Tastes like a red Nivole. Easy drinking, very pleasant, and thankfully not too sweet.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Sam’s Club, $15.99; Available elsewhere, $20 to $26

NV The Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz (South Eastern Australia): A very dark and dense purple color. Aromas of sweet black cherry. Smells much better than it tastes. Very bitter, like biting into an espresso bean.
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: Wine Exchange (California), $12.95; Available elsewhere, $13 to $20

Filed under: Australian Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Italian Wine, Lesser Known Varietals, Shiraz/Syrah, Sparkling Wine, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Dale Cruse | September 15th, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    My results are very much the same with these two wines. I’ve yet to meet a sparkling Shiraz that I liked. The Rosa Regale, on the other hand, is amazing with chocolate. It’s also the perfect dessert wine after and Easter or Thanksgiving feast!

  2. Jason | August 19th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Unfortunately the Black Chook Sparkling is note a particular good example of an Australian sparkling wine. Much better versions are available, and sparkling red is reasonably common in Australia. Try Rockford’s Black Shiraz (Barossa), Hollick’s Sparkling Merlot (Coonawarra), Barossa Valley Estate’s E&E Sparkling Shiraz (Adelaide Plains), or even Rumball’s Sparkling Shiraz (Barossa). In the US, Shingleback Sparkling Shiraz (McLaren Vale) is widely available in the Pacific NW and is better than the Black Chook.

  3. Kori | August 26th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing your recommendations. I’ll be on the lookout for these. We had some good sparkling reds when we were in Australia in 2005. Cheers!