As you read this, 35 chefs in 15 countries are celebrating the underrated Italian wine — Lambrusco — as part of the second annual Mondo Lambrusco. After gaining a bad rap in the U.S. for being overly sweet and fizzy, Lambrusco is making its comeback — and not without some help.
To promote the wine’s finer qualities, the International Culinary Center (ICC) in New York hosted a day-long Lambrusco tasting conducted by renowned wine writer Giorgio Melandri and ICC’s wine director Scott Carney. And since Italian wine is best enjoyed with food, a host of chefs including Michael White and Cesare Casella created bite-size Italian specialties (think sausages, hand-made tortellini and quail) to go with the wines.
While preparing the tortellini and expounding on his love of everything Italian, Michael White let it slip that his go-to breakfast at home is wheat toast topped with mortadella, which incidentally would pair perfectly with Lambrusco. If only it were acceptable to drink at breakfast…
Below are five more things we learned at the tasting:
1. Not all Lambruscos are alike. Lambrusco is a family of grapes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy with many distinct styles — some with more structure, some with lower acidity, etc. If you don’t like your first bottle, keep searching.
2. Always drink Lambrusco with food. In Italy wine (like Lambrusco and Barolo) is always meant to be on the table with food.
3. Lambrusco pairs best with fatty foods like salumi. Lambrusco’s high acid content cuts right through fatty foods, which explains why Michael White cooked up a lard sandwich (it exists!) to pair with the wine.
4. Lambrusco is an everyday wine. The experts at the tasting instructed us to crack open a bottle of Lambrusco whenever someone stops by (along with salumi, of course). Plus, its low alcohol content (around 8%) means it works well as an everyday dinner drink.
5. It’s affordable! Most bottles of Lambrusco found in the U.S. retail between $13 and $20.
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