“Hey, we’re in the area, should we come by?” We all know these phone calls– or the knock on the door– and as happy as we are to have the unexpected guests, what to serve? An unexpected wine! Sure you can probably put together a cheese platter and open a bottle of wine, but we have another sparkling idea: LAMBRUSCO and PIZZA.
Yes, Lambrusco! We’re fans of this fizzy red wine from Italy that’s sure to sparkle your winter! And what’s more unexpected than guests but a RED sparkling wine like Lambrusco?
Lambrusco is unusual in many ways: it starts from seeds spontaneously, climbs trees to photosynthesize and avoid powdery mildew, is one of Italy’s oldest named grapes with eight closely related varietals with over 60 named grapes in all, and is one of the most indigenous or native to its place wine grapes in the world. Unfortunately, following astonishing popularity in the 70s for a sweet soda pop style beverage, Lambrusco has fallen out of favor, with 40% of the vines pulled out, and replaced with other more well known vines.
Most Lambrusco comes from Emiglia-Romagna, but there’s a small area in south of Lake Garda in Lombardy allowed to make Lambrusco, Mantua. At the 2022 Wine Media Conference on Lake Garda, a group of wine writers visited there while I and others went north to Valtelina.
While of course we love our cheeseboards, in the winter you want something WARM! For the pizza, Sue took a Trader Joes pizza crust (or keep a ready made crust int he freezer!), and brushed it with a bit of tomato paste, olive oil, and red fresh chopped garlic. Then she topped it with grated ricotta salata cheese, creamy Toscano cheese, fresh tomatoes, and basil. Then she popped it in the one until the cheese bubbled and the crust crisped. Of course you can use a mozzarella or really any other cheese you have in the house, but this pizza has a different flavor profile: the cheese should be light as this dish is all about the fresh tomato, fresh basil, and fresh garlic with the fresh bright flavors of the wine. This pizza can also be served with a side of marinara as a dipping sauce or the Italian anchovy sauce bagna cauda.
And for the Lambrusco? This Cantina Sociale di Quistello Lambrusco “80 Vendemmie” Rosso di Quistello I.G.P. wine was poured during the “Speed Tasting” at this year’s Wine Media Conference in Italy. When I met the winemaker afterward, he gave a bottle to me which I somehow managed to get back to California to share with Sue!
Here’s a few tweets about this wine from the speed tasting:
This tweet from the winery shows some of their grapes on the vine:
SRP about 7 euros so like under $20 in the US
Grapes: single-varietal Lambrusco Grapello Ruberti
“80 Vendemmie” means “80 Red Harvest.” Grapes are grown by members of the local coop, then a Vino Frizzante is made using the autoclave method.
Appearance: Very tiny bubbles, ruby plum, jewel toned, pink rim, very pretty.
Aroma: Roasted plums, cinnamon, clove, violets, nicely engaging.
Palate: Tart cherry, the tiny bubbles tickle the tongue as they move across the palate, Santa Rosa plum, plum skin, the baking spices come through on the finish, nice textural finish (leather or suede).
Pairing: We both felt that this would be a very nice holiday wine which is why I’m sharing this now! The aroma is much more complex than the palate, but the palate is very pleasing. This is a crowd pleasing wine. This would be great for a Friday happy hour wine but would also go well with a turkey meal– whether a burger with blue cheese or a roast or smoked whole bird for the holidays. The intense Foradori biodynamic cheese is so fun and perfect with the wine. Earthen and funky enhancing the fruit in the wine. Nice with a sharp, rich, creamy Toscano, but Sue and I just kept going back to the Foradori. The pizza was so brilliant with the wine. The fresh garlic tomato and basil was a match made in heaven. the pecorino cheese topping the salad was also perfect for the entire meal.
Stay tune and subscribe: in the New Year we’re doing new to us grapes — and we’ve got more fizzy fun from Italy with a Frignano Sgarbato Pet Nat, an Organic Sparkling Natural Wine produced from the rare Tosca grape, which grows in higher altitudes in Emilia and is believed to be a descendant of Schiava Grossa, says the importer VeroVino.
PS I don’t speak Italian but in researching this article for info, SRP, and importer, I came across the video and this looks like they’re having fun! Also check out the HUGE glasses they use– makes me think I’ll use my Beaujolais glasses next time I have Lambrusco! Clearly they enjoyed this wine, too!