Say what? How can I make my own sparkling wine at home, I hear you say. We'll thanks to a little inspiration from world famous Chef, Heston Blumenthal, and an episode of Heston's Feasts, where he used the 1980's as a theme - the well known kitchen gadget, the Soda Stream, was used to sparkle up some cheap white wine that Londoners struggled to pick out when tasted blind against a true Champagne.
Preferring sparkling reds over whites personally, and seeing new Soda Stream machines in my local supermarket, the idea of making my own sparkling red wine was born.
What you will need
A Soda steam machine ($69 from the soft drink section of Woolworths)
50 - 100Ml of fortified red wine such as ruby port
(Vary the amount of the fortified wine to your preference for sweetness. The more you add the sweeter the wine will be)
How to make the magic happen!
Pour the entire bottle of red wine into the Soda Stream bottle
Screw the Soda Stream bottle into the machine
Push the button at the top of the machine three times to properly carbonate the wine , pausing in-between each press so that the liquid does not overflow.
Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Further Tips and Hints
1. A naturally sweeter red wine will work best and, in some cases, may require little to no addition of the fortified wine. My favourite combination to date was a Barossa Shiraz/Grenache with 70Ml of the Fortified wine. I am also highly confident that the MDV Wines 08 Grenache would work an absolute treat and not require any addition of fortified wine at all.
2. Do note make the same mistake I did when buying the port and fail to see the word "Tawny". Tawny port simply won't give you a well integrated flavour. Trust me... I tried it!
3. Maximum results are achieved when the liquid reaches the fill line on the bottle, which unfortunately a 750ML of red wine plus the 100Ml of fortified wine does not . The current machines come with 1L bottles but I believe the older Soda Stream machines were around 750ML bottles so you wouldn't have this problem. With a smaller bottle you would even have to reduce the amount of wine and adjust the dosage of fortified wine so as not to over sweeten the wine.
Using the new 1 Litre bottles there are a few ways you could get around this problem:
a) Use more than one bottle of red wine to top up the liquid to the fill line (this may require slight adjustment of the amount of fortified wine as well)
b) Simply add fortified wine until the fill line is reached. This will result in a fairly sweet wine but some people may actually prefer this.
c) Put something, approximately 100ML or so, in volume into the Soda Stream bottle to begin with that will not change or taint the taste of the wine in anyway way and will ensure that the 850ML in the bottle will reach the fill line. Examples I thought of were: glass marbles; Ice blocks still in their plastic wrapping; Mars bar still in its wrapping; or probably the most ideal, Whiskey stones (see here)
Why this isn't as silly as some may suggest
- While I am not suggesting this will ever be as good as a true, naturally fermented sparkling red, when carbonated properly and consumed straight away you may be surprised how close it comes. I know one winemaker that blind tasted it was!
- It's 42 degrees (celsius) outside as I am typing this, so should I prefer a red wine over a white wine later on as don't have any proper sparkling red available, it's a viable option for a cool, refreshing beverage if you have the equipment and wine required.
- You can experiment with different wines that are not usually made into sparkling wines e.g Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Barbera... the list is almost endless as you do this with absolutely any wine that you choose, including white wines, Rosé or even desert wines!
- It's fun and that's what wine should be. Sure, a few winemakers and others may think it is sacrilege that their finely crafted wines are being 'ruined' by being carbonated when they were made as still wines, but if you are enjoying them this way, then do it. It's your wine!
The main thing is that you're enjoying wine and having fun... and that's No BS!