With this being Cocktail and Happy Hour week at The Kitchn, I simply could not let the week go by without a shout out for Lambrusco, the crisp, refreshing and deliciously frothy sparkling red wine from Emilia Romagna in Italy. I particularly like and recommend the 2011 Cavicchioli 'Vigna del Cristo' Secco ($16), which is perfect for any happy hour gathering, especially now, as Lambrusco is suddenly trendy again.
The crisp acidity and gentle frothy effervescence of this dry (secco) Lambrusco make it a perfect partner for typical fatty and salty happy hour foods like salami and other cured meats, pigs-in-a blanket, sliders, deep fried calamari as well as a host of hard salty cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Manchego or aged Gouda. The cocktail of red berry fruit flavors acts as a foil and bright fruity contrast to the saltiness of the nibbles and the dryness (secco) gives a refreshing tart kick to the finish.
This 2011 Cavicchioli 'Vigna del Cristo' Secco is made from 100% lambrusco di Sorbara. The grapes were hand harvested and it was made using the tank (Charmat) method of sparkling wine production.
Popular during the 1960s and 1970s Lambrusco suffered during the 1980s when it had a bad image as cloying, sweet, cheep fizz. Not so any more. Lambrusco has made a justifiable comeback, in my opinion. While there are still some forgettable industrial volume Lambrusco wines still knocking around, for the most part today's Lambrusco wines are crisp, fresh and lively and whether dry or off-dry, they are balanced and harmonious in flavor.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. In 2012 she was honored as a Dame Chevalier de L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.
(Image: Mary Gorman)