Lambrusco and Chinese Takeout

Lambrusco and Chinese Takeout with "Lost in Space"

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

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)

Lambrusco Reggiano

Le Grotte Reggiano Lambrusco

Le Grotte Reggiano Lambrusco

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”!

Chinese pairing

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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.

Entertainment Pairing

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

Wine pairings for Chinese takeout

Chinese Takeout and gewürztraminer.

It was Valentines Day and I was trapped at home, waiting for a wine shipment that needed my signature. Michael was working so he suggested Chinese Takeout for dinner. This brilliant move allowed us to order when he was heading home so dinner could be ready upon his arrival! (Good thing too, because I was hungry!) So Valentine’s Day evening curled up on the couch with Chinese Takeout, my husband maybe some winter Olympics? Yeah, that sounds pretty heavenly to me. But what to drink with our takeout? I thought I would research some options and see what we had to match in the cellar.

Luckily with Chinese New Year being Friday (February 16th), it is easy to find suggestions this time of year.

A little bit on Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dog

Living in Vegas, I am well aware of Chinese New Year. The town is covered in Billboards announcing, sometimes in English, sometimes Chinese, that we are welcoming the Year of the Dog.

So…in the Chinese Zodiac, the dog is the eleventh animal. Dogs as everyone knows are honest and loyal and so it goes for those born in the year of the dog. Sadly the year of your Zodiac sign is traditionally an unlucky year, so if you were born in 1910, 1922, 1034, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 or 2006, it’s time to pull up your big girl panties and prepare for a challenging year. Don’t worry the rest of us have your back!

Back to wine pairing

Typically when you think of Chinese or Asian style foods reisling or gewürztraminer, the sweetness in these wines can be great for complimenting the spiciness or sweetness in the food. But when you get into sweet and sour dishes you will find they go well with high acid wines, so a sauvignon blanc, an albariño or un-oaked chardonnay would work. Of course sparkling wines and rosés are a good bet too, pairing with a range of flavors and sparkling wine is exceptional with fatty dishes, cutting the fat and cleaning your palate for the next bite. If we were diving into some duck or pork I would probably think about a pinot noir, and with beef…I might lean toward a Rhône style blend or even something deeper like a syrah or malbec. Remember that to keep the spice down in a dish you want to pair it with a wine that is not too dry, one that has a bit of sweetness.

chicken lettuce cups

chicken lettuce cups

vegetable lo mein

vegetable lo mein

Chinese Sesame chicken

Sesame chicken

But for this night we settled on crab rangoons & chicken lettuce wraps, I had some hot & sour soup (it’s a weakness) and then Vegetable Lo Mein while Michael enjoyed some sesame chicken. I searched for a lambrusco for Michael to pair with the sesame chicken. I know lambrusco fell out of favor in the 80’s, but it can pair very well with dishes that are a little sweet with some soy. Sadly…I could not find a store near by that had a lambrusco. So that pairing will have to wait for our next Chinese takeout day.

Balleto gewürztraminer and Chinese food.

Balletto 2016 Gewürztraminer and Chinese food.

We ended up popping open the gewürztraminer from Balletto Vineyards and enjoying that with dinner. This wine has a hint of sweetness and a little spice on the finish. It was really lovely with both the chicken lettuce cups and my vegetable lo mein. This is a great wine for pairing with lighter vegetable dishes, because it doesn’t overpower them. I do admit to having a little trouble pulling my nose out of the glass to take a bite of food. This gewürztraminer from Balletto is so beautifully fragrant, it had me captivated. (If you would like a virtual visit to this Sonoma Country Winery, check out our video!)

With Chinese New Year and all the dumplings right around the corner, I do have a couple of suggestions. With dumplings, keep in mind that you are pairing with the fillings or the sauces. A traditional pork and cabbage dumpling would be very nice with a chardonnay that has good acid and a little oak. If you have some fresh ginger with your dish, you might go with a Sauvignon Blanc. If you really want a red, by all means do it! Pinot Noir is that great crossover wine and it’s lovely with pork. It is also light enough that it won’t overpower your dumpling.

So…I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and here’s to a great Year of the Dog!  Pick up some Chinese take out grab a bottle or two of wine and have your own celebration!

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