Kitchn Love Letters

This “Amazing” Budget Bubbly Is the Only Bottle I’m Popping for the Holidays

published Dec 17, 2023
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Glasses with cold pink champagne with lavender flowers placed on table
Credit: Dasha Petrenko / Shutterstock

If anything can bring about decision fatigue, it’s the holidays. This is why I recommend choosing a “signature wine” for the season that you use for neighborhood parties, last-minute gifts, New Year’s Eve mingling, and drinking out of a reindeer mug at 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve while wrapping all the gifts you procrastinated for weeks. This year my go-to has been Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé, a fun, punchy pink bubbly from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.

Credit: Diane McMartin

What’s So Great About Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé?

When people shop for wine, they often feel under informed, intimidated, and pressed for time (51% of Americans open a bottle of wine within three days of purchasing it). This leads people to grab something that looks familiar, like Champagne or Prosecco from a famous brand. So lesser-known regions and styles of wine that don’t have that immediate shelf appeal are often amazing values.

The wine-growing regions in Emilia-Romagna that make Lambrusco are one such area — especially because even people who do know about Lambrusco often have a negative association with it. (This region became known for sweet, one-note sparkling reds in the early 1980s.) But these regions and their signature grape varieties (there are a few different Lambrusco varieties) make a whole range of delicious sparkling wines, from bone-dry to sweet and from dark purple-red to rosé or even white. 

Cleto Chiarli is one of the oldest and most established Lambrusco producers in Modena, the commune in Emilia-Romagna famous for its balsamic vinegar, and its Brut de Noir Rosé is full of zingy fruit flavors like tart cherry, raspberry, and watermelon. The texture is almost a bit creamy, and the finish is clean and mouthwatering. 

Like Prosecco, it’s made using the charmat method, which tends to bring out bright, fresh, crowd-pleasing flavors. It’s made with 85% Lambrusco Grasparossa, the boldest of the Lambrusco varieties, so just a short amount of skin contact is enough to give the wine a bright pink color and lots of flavor, while the balance is Pinot Noir that brings a little acidity and aromatic intrigue to the party — and at under $20, you can afford to stock up! (Maybe just don’t mention the Lambrusco bit to older relatives unless you want that Riunite jingle stuck in your head until New Year’s.)

Credit: Diane McMartin

What’s the Best Way to Drink Cleto Chiarli’s Brut de Noir Rosé?

While this sparkling rosé is great on its own, like other wines from this part of Italy, it shines with food as well. (Emilia-Romagna is known for cured meats, Parmigiano Reggiano, and rich pasta dishes.) It’s got a little more body and tang than a lot of other sparkling rosés I’ve tried, so it’s great as an aperitif or stand-alone glass of bubbly; it would also be amazing with a charcuterie board or any of those delicious cheese-heavy appetizers we tend to make around this time of year (think: Aunt Kim’s port wine cheese ball or sweet and savory baked Brie).

Buy: Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé, $16.99 for 750 mL at Drizly

What are some of your favorite sparkling wines for the holiday season? Tell us about it in the comments below.