The Wine Curmudgeon does not like red sparkling wine. This dates to an unpleasant experience with sparkling shiraz at a trendy Fort Worth restaurant and a waiter who knew a lot less about wine than he thought. The less said about it, the better.
Still, the only rule of wine is to drink as many kinds as possible, whether one likes it or not. So when the Italian Wine Guy said the Cleto Chiarli ($14, sample, 11%), a red bubbly from Italy, was one of his favorites, who was I to argue? And which demonstrates that you should always listen to people who know more than you do.
Because I enjoyed it, as quirky as it was. Quirky because it had very dark fruit, very dry, and even slightly tannic, hardly what Americans expect from the sweet and soft fruit Lambruscos that most of us know. It’s not for all tastes, and especially for someone expecting a sweet wine or a more conventional sparkler.
But if you want to try it, you’ll find a very well made wine with better quality bubbles than I expected and that is unlike almost anything else you’ve ever had. Serving it chilled wouldn’t hurt, and the tannins make it a better food wine than expected. And you might even like it, which is the best part.
One caveat: The bottle has an old-fashioned wire closure — the best comparison is a piece of clothes hanger holding the cork down — and not a sparkling wine cage. I used a screwdriver to pry it off, though I doubt that’s the traditional method.