When I was a child there were two types of wine as far as I was aware, Blue Nun and Cold Duck. My childhood in the late 60’s into the early 70’s saw my parents hosting small parties or attending them and I remember the tall blue bottles of Blue Nun and the deep purple bubbles of the Cold Duck they poured. André still makes “Cold Duck”, and I suppose it is about as well thought of as Sutter Homes White Zin in this day and age. None the less, nostalgia brings me back to these fond memories. And hence, on a Throwback Thursday, I found myself in possession of a bottle of lambrusco, which made me think of those dark bubbles of Cold Duck, and I allowed nostalgia to take me away.
There is a story about how the name “Cold Duck” came about. I won’t vouch for it’s validity, but in this nostalgic frame of mind, a tale of origin, true or not seems appropriate. German legend says that Prince Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony ordered all the dregs of unfinished wine mixed and bottled with Champagne. This was call the cold end or “Kaltes Ende” based on the winemaking method and later it somehow was changed to “Kalte Ente” or Cold Duck.
More dark bubbly stuff
I was enchanted when I tasted Argyle’s “Black Brut” in their tasting room a few years ago. Far superior to the nameless varieties of red wine grapes in Cold Duck, this wine was 100% Pinot Noir that spends at least 3 years under tirage. I still find times when this wine comes to mind and I am magically transported back to childhood.
Of course I am speaking of these wines as we speak of rosé, where everything that is pink is lumped together, when in fact rosés are extremely varied depending on the grape. So it is also with these dark bubblies, they are all dark and bubbly, but they can be made from all sorts of red grapes and can taste very different from each other. So…finally I move on to the lambrusco.
Lambrusco is made from…lambrusco, a grape from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. In the wake of “Cold Duck”, lambrusco hit the market in the United States. It was made in a sweeter style and many looked at it as dark fizzy grape juice. Well, that was true enough. Lambrusco tailored itself to the current market, making inexpensive sweet fizzy wine, typically in the Charmant (or tank) method, because it was cheaper. Traditionally, lambrusco was a dry wine that had a slight effervescence from finishing it’s fermentation in bottle. Today you can find a wide variety of lambruscos that are affordable and tasty, from lightly colored wines from Lambrusco di Sorbara to deep inky wines made from Lambrusco Grasparossa or off dry wines made from Lambrusco Salamino. Finally you find Lambrusco de Modena and Lambrusco Reggiano. The wine we chose was from this last region.
(Note that none of these wines will set you back very far, they top out at about $24 on the highest end)
From the province of Reggio Emilia, which borders Modena you find Lambrusco Reggiano. Wines here can be made from a blend of the lambrusco varieties. The specific wine we had was Le Grotte Reggiano Lambrusco Rosso Dolce, which yes, means sweet red wine. So this wine really did take me back. I look forward to continuing my search for Lambruscos and tasting through the regions and styles, but for this night, this wine did the trick. And while I was giddy with nostalgia, I didn’t end up giddy on the wine. While it was delectably fizzy and wonderful in my mouth and not serious at all, it packs a mere 8.5% alcohol, so we could easily finish the bottle between us and still focus on “Lost in Space”!
Back at Chinese New Year I was looking at wine pairings with Chinese food and came across a suggestion for pairing with lambrusco. Sadly…I was unable to locate a bottle at that time. But a month or so ago, I came across a bottle and picked it up. Tonight was the night. We would pick up Chinese from the place down the street and do our pairing.
Popping the bottle was a little more exciting than with other sparkling wines or champagne, I felt a little giddy. Then watching the bubbles foam as the inky dark wine poured into the glass…I had an ear to ear grin pasted on my face. We had ordered orange chicken and sesame chicken to pair, again a little throwback, typically my chinese fare is more vegetable driven. The sweetness and fattiness of the dish was perfect with the lambrusco.
To continue our throwback theme, we turned on Netflix and cued up the new “Lost in Space” remake. Nostalgic bliss ensued. “Danger Will Robinson!” This throwback pairing is not so great for your waistline, but it can be really good for your spirit.
Come back and join us as we explore more of the world of wine! I will be searching out other Lambruscos, wine pairings and meeting more of the fascinating people behind the wines here at Crushed Grape Chronicles . You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram