Even though people regularly drink non-alcoholic carbonated beverages such as colas with their meals, getting them to drink sparkling wines with dinner (and not just for celebrations) has always proven to be a chore. Producers from Champagne to Cava to Prosecco have tried to do so, but with little success.
The one exception that has always stood apart is Lambrusco, the fizzy, fruity, red sparkling wine of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy where it is often consumed with pork, the primary meat of the region. Its high acidity and sometimes lower alcohol prove to be a good match.
This edition of The Dozen has a few Lambruscos to try as well as some other enjoyable dinner wines. Are you hungry yet?
2022 Groiss Gemischter Satz White Table Wine ($15) – Very lively flavors of green apples and lots of stony minerality.
2022 Masciarelli Colline Teatine Rosato ($11) – A little tight and a bit muddled in flavors – chiefly ripe strawberries.
2022 Inman Family “Endless Crush” Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir ($40) – Gamey Pinot notes with some hints of wood, good minerality, and light tannins.
NV Cleto Chiarli “Centenario” Lambrusco di Modena ($13) – Although frothy with fresh-cherry juiciness, this is a more muted, more-serious, more savory, and more fruity Lambrusco.
NV Cleto Chiarli Italian Rosé Spumante Brut de Noir ($16) – A little tart, with nice strawberry and citrus flavors and a crisp finish.
2022 Cleto Chiarli “Enrico Cialdini” Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Secco ($18) – Light, creamy, intense bubbles, strawberry flavors.
2022 Cleto Chiarli Vecchia Modena “Premium” Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco ($21) – Lovely frothy pink with good fruitiness of strawberries and cream with an under taste of tangy red grapes and a good finishing crispness.
2021 Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco ($21) – Quite nice – crisp, clean, pink, more like a Cava than a Lambrusco.
2020 Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($15) – Bright red fruit, but enough nice mellow oak to tame it.
2018 Rodney Strong “Alexander’s Crown” Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) – A very nice Cab, not overpowering, with a lot of lovely savory garrigue-style notes – a good melding of black fruits and oak with lip-smacking tannins.
2018 Rodney Strong “Brothers” Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) – Very light on the fruitiness, somewhat elegant and smooth, with cherry flavors, savory touches, and tangy tannins.
2018 Rodney Strong “Rockaway” Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) – A lot of elegant red fruit with some hints of baking spices – enjoyable, though not complex.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com.As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.