A Fizzy Red
I’m not talking about red creaming soda (although how great is red creaming soda, amiright?). I’m talking about Sparkling Shiraz. This is a relatively new wine for me to drink, three years ago I was reading a wine blog which was enthusing about the joys of sparkling Shiraz when paired with turkey. And I was like – OMG, there’s something out there that makes the majestical turkey EVEN GREATER?!? Where have you been all my Christmases?? So I gave it a shot, and yes, they were in fact correct – sparkling Shiraz IS fucking amazing and it DOES go really well with roast turkey.
But for something so fantastic it feels like an under appreciated wine. Why had I not heard of it/been drinking it all of these years? Why is it not on everyone’s table come Christmas time? Has everyone been drinking it behind my back and there’s just been a massive cover up to stop me from finding out about it and drinking it all?
Originally called sparkling Burgundy, laws of Appelation means the name had to change to Shiraz. The first Australian sparkling Burgundy was produced by the Victorian Champagne Company in 1881, but the major cudos has to go to a Frenchie by the name of Edmund Mazure who is credited with creating the first true Aussie-style sparkling Burgandy in 1888 in South Australia. The manufacture of sparkling Burgundy continued to gain slow momentum as various other wineries started to pick up on the fact that this was a fucking great idea.
A random wine fad swept Australia in the early 70’s, called Cold Duck. This appears to be a type of thin, sweet, overly carbonated red wine which was developed in America and flooded the market in Australia (and sounds like it was made by mixing spittoons with carbonated sugar water). Having never tried Cold Duck, or even heard of it prior to starting this blog, I am finding it really hard to understand how people drank it as it sounds so unpalatable, however I guess when you are completely fucked off your face on LSD like 62% of the population was in the 70s that might explain a thing or two. This fad nearly ruined the Australian sparkling Shiraz industry for two reasons:
- in an attempt to be competitive with Cold Duck the price of Australian sparkling Shiraz kept dropping, making it completely unsustainable to actually produce this wine
- People started thinking that Cold Duck was what all sparkling red wine tasted like (and as it tasted like shit) people not unreasonably decided to buy other sorts of wines.
Sales of sparkling Shiraz stopped, and wineries gave up on laying down stock. The future of the great sparkling Shiraz started to look grim.
Thank god for heroes such as Peter Rumball (possibly the most delicious last name I have heard recently) and many other unsung heros/winemakers, who bucked the trend and in the 1980’s decided to have another crack at making sparkling Shiraz as otherwise that wine was fucked.
The Future of Sparkling Shiraz
I couldn’t find any specific production or consumption statistics on sparkling Shiraz. The one stat I could find is from 2006 when there were only around 60 different types of Australian sparkling Shiraz available for sale (which is really, really small when you consider Shiraz is the most commonly grown grape in Australia).
However it looks as though export sales of sparkling Shiraz are doing well, with Asian countries (and Japan in particular) deciding this is a great tipple to take part in. When asked, our faithful readers were a divided bunch, with either a definite ‘yes, I love sparkling Shiraz and am easily able to name a favourite’ response to the other side where we got a blank faced WTF-are-ya-talkin-about look and the eventual response to ‘go and ask your mother’.
Why You Should Drink It
I don’t know about you but I am very much a seasonal drinker. I drink reds when its cold, whites when its hot, rose when it’s somewhere in between, and sparkling whenever I can get my hands on it. But sometimes, in the midst of summer, I miss red wine and winter feels like such a long way away. This is the perfect drop as it tastes like Shiraz, it’s cold so you can drink it even when the temperature cracks 40 degrees, and its sparkling so it feels like a party is about to occur in your mouth. As it’s made from the Shiraz grape, depending on where the grape comes from, you’ll get flavours of blackberries, blueberries, chocolate, red fruits and spices, all of which are completely delicious.
How You Should Drink It
Sparkling Shiraz is at its best when chilled. The cooler temperature maximises the bubbles and makes it crisp, but you can over chill which will cause it to lose some of its flavour. Remove the wine from the fridge for a few minutes before serving to ensure it’s at the optimal temp.
What To Drink It With
As mentioned above, sparkling Shiraz is the perfect Christmas drink. It goes amazingly well with turkey and ham, plus it looks totally kickass sitting on your Christmas table amongst all the festive baubles you’ve picked up from Red Dot. However, don’t limit yourself to Christmas feasts only, try serving it with Asian foods, for a boozy brunch, or fuck the food and just drink it on its own.
Some types of sparkling Shiraz to try:
I am working my way through this list. Some I’ve tried, and some have been recommended by our Goonies.
From the Winery:
- Lion Mill Winery Sparkling Shiraz – $22.00
- Whicher Ridge Wines Redtail Sparking Shiraz – $45.00
- Sittella Winery Sparkling Shiraz – $28.80
- Dukes VIneyard Sparkling Shiraz – $180 per case (6)
From the Bottleshop
- Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz Sparkling Shiraz – $14.95 from Booze Buds
- Taltarni Sparkling Shiraz – $19.99 from Booze Buds
- Rumball Sparkling Shiraz – $15.60 from Dan Murphys
- Andrew Garrett Sparkling Shiraz – $12.99 from Dan Murphys
- The Colonial Estate Explorateur Sparkling Shiraz NV – $15.99 from Get Wines Direct
- The Peak Sparkling Shiraz – $14.99 from WA Cleanskin Cellars
- The Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz – $16.99 from Cracka Wines
Want much more information on sparkling Shiraz with much less swearing? Rumball’s your man.