For a country that makes so much wine, why do some of Italy’s vinous products get such a bad rap?
Perhaps the answer can be found in the question. Maybe the sheer number of wine types produced virtually guarantees that there will be some for which people don’t care. After all, the quality spectrum of wine, not just in Italy but in most wine-producing countries, can be quite wide.
In the case of Italy, the three types that have caught more than their share of abuse through the years are Prosecco, Chianti and Lambrusco.
Well, in all three cases, the image does not align with reality. Not in the wine world of 2016, anyway.
Prosecco was sometimes referred to as “a poor man’s Champagne,” and it’s an apt description if all you’re taking into consideration is price. But as Italian estate after Italian estate has proven, great sparkling wine can be crafted outside the Champagne region of France. Michelle and I even served Prosecco at our wedding, as I noted in this blog: https://blog.vinesse.com/2015/11/27/so-many-reasons-to-be-thankful-including-a-wine-filled-wedding/.
For many people, when they thought about Chianti, they envisioned some type of innocuous red wine housed in a type of straw-covered bottle aptly called a “fiasco.” Truly, many of those wines were pretty bad, but today’s Chianti bottlings are all about quality. In fact, for the past 20 years, there have been strict guidelines for Chianti wines, ensuring that at least 75% of the cuvee consists of Sangiovese — the same variety used to make Italy’s coveted Brunello di Montalcino wines.
Which brings us to Lambrusco, perhaps the most lampooned of the three and, for much of its existence, deservedly so. But as with Prosecco and Chianti, what you thought you knew about Lambrusco doesn’t apply today.
Lambrusco’s poor reputation dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, when most of the bottlings that found their way to the States were fizzy, sweet and cheap — which, in the minds of many, placed them in the same category as wine coolers.
During that same period of time, however, Italians were drinking Lambrusco of a different type — red sparklers with a more earthy personality, perhaps just a touch of sweetness, and extremely refreshing. In other words, wines that are absolutely perfect for serving alongside pizza, particularly when topped with spicy pepperoni or sausage.
For as long as I’ve been with Vinesse — and that goes back to year two of the company — I can’t recall a Lambrusco being offered. I could be wrong about that, but I’m pretty sure I’m right.
But after tasting the absolutely beguiling Caprari Lambrusco, the tasting panel decided to include it in a special Pizza Pairing Collection that also includes a bottling of America’s go-to “pizza wine,” Zinfandel. It’s a wine that would work equally well with a Margherita pizza as it does with pepperoni.
If you haven’t tried Lambrusco since those “Reunite on ice” commercials were ubiquitous on the radio, the time has come. If you enjoy being delightfully surprised as much as I do, this is your opportunity.