Sparkling Shiraz: not just for Xmas
By Campbell Mattinson
06 November, 2015
The first time someone put a glass of sparkling red in front of me I looked at it aghast. The idea of red wine and bubbles combined seemed frightful. This was at a wine festival. My mates goaded me to try it but I chickened out – only to return to the stall, by myself, an hour later. I’d had to work up the courage.
The wine itself looked electrically bright. It had been poured into a tiny tasting glass, and the purple-maroon froth ballooned right up to the rim. I went to take a swirl and smell – and took a jet of carbon dioxide straight up my nose. I was sneezing purple before I’d even tasted it.
But then I took a mouthful – and, to my surprise, it tasted delicious. It was dense but light, awash with sweet fruit flavour but earthen and spicy too. Best of all, it had a suede-like softness. In a jiffy I was hooked.
It’s that kind of style. Most people fear it at first, and then fall one way or the other; love or loathe. You run at it hard or you run away. Screaming.
I’m in the love camp. I hate to think how many bottles of Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz, Morris Sparkling Shiraz Durif (cheap, sweet old faithful) and Best’s Sparkling Shiraz I’ve sunk over the years. For a while it was almost my favourite tipple.
Every couple of years I attempt a ‘dry month’, and after a couple of weeks without wine it’s the heady burst of a sparkling red that I crave. It’s often praised as a “Christmas Day” wine because it goes with turkey and duck and roasted and/or cold meats aplenty, but it’s even more versatile than that. You can drink it at room temperature, you can drink it cold, you can drink it in winter, or in the middle of summer. Indeed it’s probably the best red to drink in summer, bar none.
But I’m biased. I just wish more people shared my bias. It’s almost non-existent on restaurants wine lists, and it shouldn’t be. It is a great Aussie drink, in equal parts quirky and seductive.
Chandon Sparkling Pinot Shiraz NV ($32)
Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz 2012 ($27)
Katnook Estate Founder’s Block Shiraz 2013 ($23)
Balgownie Estate Sparkling Shiraz 2014 ($29)
Centennial Vineyard Sparkling Shiraz NV ($25)
Morris Sparkling Shiraz Durif NV ($20)