Friday, April 8, 2016

It's A Lambrusco Day

A good wine list is a beautiful thing. Even if I don’t plan on having a glass of wine at a restaurant meal, I just hate it when I give a glance to the eatery’s vino offerings and feel completely uninspired.

Denise and I had a nice lunch recently at a restaurant we had been meaning to try for quite a while. La Buca Osteria L.A. is way east on Melrose and has a sign in front intimating that it might be time to stop looking at the sign as you drive by and stop in already. So we did.

We like to celebrate Fridays with a nice lunch together under, hopefully, perfect conditions. That’s not an unreasonable request in Southern California, where you can probably count the less-than-perfect-weather Fridays each year on one hand. It was a gorgeous spring day when we sat down at the table, covered with butcher paper decorated with an ink stamp of a motorcycle.

I like the way Denise fills me in on the details of our dining experience. She digs a lot deeper into the L.A. food scene than I do, and she always has an interesting tidbit or two culled from her personal research. It appears, she told me, that the original chef left the resto in a dispute over meatballs. A scene from “Big Night” immediately comes to mind. There are no meatballs on the menu now, and I guess that’s one way to work it out. “Chef Out In Meatball Beef.”

The wine list had some nice options for a beautiful day - a rosé,a Chenin Blanc… wait, what’s this? A Lambrusco? Perfect. I'm inspired.

The Barbolini Lambrusco is just that - a perfect Lambrusco. Italian journalist Curzio Malaparte wrote in Lambrusco and Freedom, "A good drinker of Lambrusco is not only a proud, warm and generous man, but he is above all free. Therefore what is it, if it isn't Lambrusco that gives the Parmesan people that bright, sincere and dominant air; that sparkle in their eyes, that loud voice and tough expression? It is the wine of freedom and of the free man."

The wine comes from the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, perhaps better known for its cheese. This Lambrusco has beautiful purple bubbles, the result of a secondary fermentation, and it comes bottled like any other sparkling wine. Please don’t confuse an artisanal Lambrusco like this one with the jugs in the grocery store. They are nothing alike.

The Barbolini Lambrusco has a wonderful frizzante, or bubbly character, and it holds a chill extremely well. The earthy grape flavor has plenty of minerality and almost no tannic grip. It’s a great sipper, but it goes very well with food, especially cured meats. I had it with La Buca’s fabulous grilled octopus and it was even better with their rustic and incredible cacio e pepe pasta dish.

So perfect was this Lambrusco that we immediately went and bought another one to take home.


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