If Chianti can overcome the image of a dripping wax candle stuck into a fiasco (the traditional straw covered Chianti bottle with low-quality connotations) then why can’t Lambrusco? In a recent article by Eric Asimov, he points out that Lambrusco is worth drinking and mentions the struggle it has had in overcoming an image as a commercial, low-quality product.
And so Lambrusco became a joke among serious wine-lovers, who had little use for it other than comparing memories, as with Boone’s Farm or Lancer’s rosé, of their introductions to the pleasures of hangovers. The time has come to consign this unfortunate impression of Lambrusco to the same locked attic trunk that holds the '70s disco wear.
Many ubercommericialized wines, like Lambrusco and Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay leave residual sugar to appeal to mass palates. Because of this, in high-fullutin' wine snobbery circles, any sweetness in wine is considered objectionable. Yet as a wine professional and avid drinker, I can attest to the food-pairing possibilities with an off-dry wine, especially with spicy food. And a wine with some sweetness, like a classic German Riesling, usually have less alcohol, meaning you can drink more without unwanted side effects. Sure, some dry Lambruscos can be quite good, earthy, and complex, but an off-dry Lambrusco, like a sound if simple Beaujolais, is one of the true simple pleasures in the world of wine.
For information about the region and traditional food pairings check out the informative italianmade.com.
About the author: Joe Campanale is a sommelier at New York City's Babbo and is the food and wine editor at Debonair Magazine. Joe is a Certified Wine Educator, Certified Sommelier, and is pursuing his master's degree in Food Studies at New York University.