Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "lambrusco"

Opera Lambrusco Hits High Notes

I could riff endlessly with puns about the Opera Lambrusco di Modena 2011.  It's a beautifully harmonious wine that just sings in the glass.  It sets the stage for a great meal.

Ok, I'm done.

In all seriousness, I'm finding Lambrusco to be a great wine when I'm feeling indecisive about what I'm in the mood to drink. It's multiple juxtapositions in a glass:  Chilled like a white but red; frizzante but not overtly bubbly; sweetly juicy but not dessert-like.  It satisfies multiple cravings at once, like chocolate-covered pretzels.

Let's take a recent Saturday, for example. My friend was visiting from Boston and after we did a few obligatory errands in the freezing cold, we decided the best course of action was to grab a glass of wine.  (Apparently, everyone else in NYC had the same idea; it took visits to 3 different wine bars to find one that could accommodate us.)

Safely ensconced in the warmth of Gottino, our attention turned to the wine list.  The thought of white wine left me feeling even chillier than I already was, but a warm red felt a bit heavy for early afternoon.  Bubbles had a brunch-like appeal, but traditional white sparklers weren't calling too me.

Viola!  Lambrusco!

The Opera Lambrusco di Modena 2011 had a bit of cotton candy, plum and raspberry on the nose.  On the palate, the same flavors appeared along with some bing cherry and red licorice.  What really made this wine notable were the frothy, foamy bubbles that rose up like meringue in the glass.

My interest in Lambrusco continues to grow and I foresee myself gravitating to them when they appear on wine lists.  When will this fascination end, you ask?  It ain't over till the fat lady sings (sorry, couldn't resist one more).

Keep tasting.....

Goldilocks and the 3 Bubblies

Once upon a time there was a girl named Goldilocks.*  One evening, close to New Year's Eve, the fair-haired maiden was invited to a party. Full of excitement and merriment, she donned her favorite party dress, glossed her lips and curled her hair in the most fetching manner.  She was just about ready to go but one thing was missing: a gift for the host.  Knowing she could not show up empty-handed, Goldilocks set out to find the perfect present.

Chocolates?  She wondered.  Flowers?  Our heroine wandered the chilly night pondering her options.  Just when she started to despair, the glowing lights of a wine store appeared in the distance.

Of course!  She would bring a bottle of bubbly.  With glee, she entered the shop.

Our leading lady first tried Clement Klur Cremant D'Alsace, a sparkling wine (but not champagne as it was not from the Champagne region) from France.   It was yeasty and toasty, with some notes of sour cream and green apple on the nose.  On the tongue, it was very dry and the baking bread tones again appeared.  But oh dear!  The bubbles felt like soda carbonation! "These bubbles are too harsh!" she declared.

Next, she saw a beautiful pink Cleto Chiarli Rose Spumante Brut de Noir Lambrusco from Italy.  Delicious strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb appeared right away on the nose.  On the tongue it was slightly fruity up front, rather toasty on the finish, dry and contained a decent amount of acidity.  Hmmm, she thought, this is very nice, but, alas, it was only lightly frizzante.  "These bubbles are too soft!"  she cried.

Our heroine was overcome with hopelessness, but just as she was about to leave, the kind shopkeeper brought out one more, a  Marc Hebrart Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne.  "Oooooh," she thought, and her eyes widened with the first sip.  Toast and yeast were prominent on the nose, along with pear and some yogurt/dairy tones.   The palate was similar in flavors, refreshingly dry and the refined, moussey bubbles danced on Goldilocks' tongue.  "This is just right!"  she announced.

With a twinkle in his eye, the shopkeeper wrapped up this treasure and our heroine skipped off into the night.

*These characters are a work of fiction and any resemblance to real-life people is purely coincidental.  Trust me.  The last time I tried to style my hair with a curling iron I ended up burning my ear.

Birthday Bubbles

Saturday was my S.O.'s birthday and for once, I wasn't completely stressed out about the day.  Normally, I send myself into a tailspin trying to find the perfect gift; debating if some type of activity, such as a play or a massage, should be a part of this day; finding the ideal spot for pre-dinner cocktails, etc.  My biggest stressor?  Finding the PERFECT place for dinner.   To  his credit,  he has told me multiple times, at various times during the year, that IT DOESN'T MATTER; as long as it's delicious he's happy.  I, on the other hand, want restaurant nirvana and often spend weeks looking for spots, then have day-of anxiety and doubt my choice, where I then proceed to looking online and call around to see if any magical last-minute reservations at this mythical restaurant have appeared.  Do I know this is crazy?  Absolutely. Do I do it annually?  You bet.

This year, though, I was ON IT.    I bought his present weeks ago (huge sense of relief there) and had a solid game plan for pre-drinks.  In addition, I was taking his talk to heart and not going to worry (too much) about where we go to dinner.  Did I still call that call-one-month-to-the-day-if-you-dare-to-even-dream-of-getting-a-reservation Restaurant in hopes of any last-minute cancellations?  Yes, yes I did.  But, overall, I was feeling pretty good about the evening.

So, how'd it go?

Dinner exceeded even my expectations and we had a great meal enhanced by some fantastic wine.  (Osteria Morini in case you are wondering.  Go.  Seriously, go).  However, we eschewed a bottle for a celebratory glass of sparkling wine, followed by a lambrusco tasting flight.  What better way to celebrate a birthday than with an all-bubbly dinner?

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Spumante “Per Lugo”, Pievalta, NV (Marche) 
As I've previously mentioned, we have a tradition of calling ahead and arranging for two glasses of sparkling wine to be brought out upon arrival during special occasion dinners.  For this meal,  I was intrigued by a rare sparkling verdicchio.  On the nose, the wine indicated notes of pear, kiwi and citrus.  After a few sips, the same fruit notes remained present but the wine finished with delicious almond nuttiness.  This was fairly medium-bodied for a sparkling wine and maybe it was the wide-bowled, stemless glass they served it in, but this wine wasn't very effervescent.  Regardless, I really enjoyed this meal opener.

Lambrusco di Sorbara, Francesco Vezzelli, 2011 (Emilia Romagna)
This was the lightest of the lambruscos. Tart cherry and cranberry appeared on the nose and right away on the palate, along with pronounced acidity and quite a bit of efferevence. The effect was of drinking a sour patch kid, but not in an unpleasant way.  Overall, though, this was my least favorite.

Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro "Gibe", Tenuta Pederzana, 2011 (Emilia Romagna)
Cranberry was the main player in this lambrusco and danced all over the glass. With every sip, I felt as if I was drinking a sparkling glass of Ocean Spray . Less acidity than the first one, this was one smooth, easy drinking lambrusco that finished dry.  There were some soft tannins that gave this one a little more heft than the first one and paired well with our dishes.  I found myself trying to sip and savor this one through the entire meal.

Lambrusco dell'Emilia "Il Mio", Camillo Donati, 2010 (Emilia Romagna) 
This lambrusco was the closest to a flat red out of the three. It has the least amount of sparkle and texturally was heavier than the the other two. Tons of black cherry and fig wafted up from the glass, comingling with earthiness on the palate.  This is a great gateway lambrusco for red drinkers who don't understand what a lambrusco is all about.   I also really enjoyed this one and found myself debating which one should be the favored last sip: this one or the Gibe.

We finished with (copious amounts) of dessert and headed out of this dinner feeling very festive.  Happy Birthday!