T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…2007 Korbel Rouge

This week’s sparkler is from Korbel, which was founded in 1882.  They are one of the few US producers that include “Champagne” in the name of their products, rather than sparkling wine.  That’s because of a loophole in US laws that allows “semi-generic” products such as sparkling wine to be referred to as “Champagne” as long it’s labeled such that the name of the appellation of the place of origin is on the label.  For example, you’ll note this wine referred to as “Sonoma County Champagne” on the label below.  Ostensibly, this is meant to prevent consumer confusion, in this case, with “Champagne” produced in France in the region with the same name.

They sell over 1 million cases of “California Champagne” produced using the Méthode Champenois, so they can rightfully claim to be America’s most popular Champagne.

From a quality perspective, no one will mistake Korbel for Champagne, but the reality is that for the average American consumer all sparkling wines are referred to as “Champagne”.   And, I think that’s  Korbel’s market, the average American consumer.

2007 Korbel Rouge

2007 Korbel Rouge

Where it’s from: California>Sonoma County

The grape(s) Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 12.5%

Dosage: 1%

 Retail: $14

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with yeasty and cherry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with a moderately course mousse and cherry, spice and subtle cola flavors. Short finish. – 85 pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one would be pleasant as a sipper, but it’s better with food.  I drank it over the course of a couple of days.  One day I enjoyed it with spaghetti with spicy Italian sausage, and the next day it was spicy combination Indian tandoori  platter.  It was a very good match for both, but especially the tandoori.  This would be a nice Thanksgiving sparkler, or even BBQ (especially smoked meats) as well.

Red sparklers are a challenge to find, but I enjoyed this, especially with food.  I would buy again if it were more easily accessible.


  1. John Engstrom says:

    I have tried Korbel Rouge. It was terrible. I have also tried sparkling Shiraz from Australia. It was better than Korbel’s wine but still not very good. The only sparkling red I have enjoyed is made by Schug in Carneros region. Pinot Noir is one of the primary grapes used in Champagne, so it is not a stretch to make a sparkler with color from Pinot Noir. Korbel uses a large dose of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is rarely described as “delicate”. I think that is the main objection to the Korbel offering

    1. I’ll have to look for the Schug! Thanks for the tip! Cheers!

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