Cold weather calls for bold wines and, well, it is freezing out. With most of the Midwest under polar vortex house arrest, bold red wines should be flying off the shelf. But, there’s a new favorite winter wine in town, and it’s a close friend of stainless steel barrels.
For years we’ve banished rosé to spring and summer, but frothy, fizzy, sparkly reds are making a splash in this cold weather. Maybe it’s because we’ve already been cold for so long and we’re looking for something with more sparkle, but sparkling red wines are a fascinating new favorite that actually go back more than a millennium.
Italy makes a Lambrusco, among others, Australia makes a sparkling Shiraz and in California they’re doing all sorts of fun bubbly stuff. It’s in California that stainless steel wine barrels are being used over barrels. These bubbly bottles don’t need oaking. In fact, the wineries that are fermenting their fizzy reds in oak are using neutral oak anyway.
Fizzy reds and rosés are incredibly crisp and flavorful wines – so much so that sommelier’s don’t recommend you pair them with any dish that is short of bold and rich or the wine will overpower it. Because of this, many winemakers don’t want or feel the need to oak their product. Such a bright, crisp and powerful palate doesn’t need the additional smokiness imparted by an oak barrel or oak alternatives. By fermenting in stainless steel wine barrels or tanks, depending on the size of the batch, winemakers can fine-tune and focus the flavor. And do they ever – on notes of lemon, grapefruit, orange, green apple, a hint of strawberry, meat, black cherry, pomegranate, you name it and winemakers are playing with it in these inherently playful, fizzy wines.
Yes, rosé and fizz won’t be held back by seasonal boundaries. So, before you curl up for the next blizzard or polar vortex, stock up on a wine that sparkles like the snow outside.