When it comes to bubbly libations for your holiday celebrations, ruby-hued bottles are what you want. Red wine with bubbles doesn’t just lend color to cocktails, it boosts body and adds tannins to balance out the sweetness. Give that bottle of brut the night off and gussy up your December soirées with a little rouge. These are three sparkling red wine drinks to make this holiday season.
Torrence O’Haire’s festive fizz at creative American restaurant The Gage in Chicago’s Millennium Park is a combination of two classics, the French 75 and New York Sour. “The two drinks meet in the middle as a Brandy Sour, topped with sparkling red wine,” says the beverage director and sommelier for Gage Hospitality Group. “The lambrusco gives the cocktail both bright, fresh sparkle … and fruity richness.” Be sure to add the wine very slowly so it creates an attractive layered effect.
Patricia Grimm, the beverage director at Adele’s in Nashville, wanted to create a light, bright brunch cocktail that highlighted the elegant floral flavors of crème de violette—known mainly for its use in the classic Aviation—without the dull tinge it can lend to drinks. “When added to a clear spirit, it typically reads gray, which belies its vibrant taste,” she says. “The earthiness of lambrusco and gin botanicals work great with the violet floral notes.” Lemon gives it fragrance and bright acidity.
In Italian, the name of this effervescent elixir means “don’t worry about it.” One look at its easy build-in-the-glass recipe and low-ABV day-drinkability, and you can see why: The Italian sparkler from Lombardy was just the ticket for the base. “While being light and effervescent, lambrusco is still full of depth and character,” says Nathan Elliott, the lead bartender at Il Solito in Portland, Ore. “It also provides just enough sweetness to satisfy most palates without being overly sweet; it’s a great variant to the traditional sparkling white wine.”