In the seventies, a fizzy chilled red wine called Lambrusco flooded the American market and turned the Riunite brand into a household name (and catchphrase). Since then, the grape has been a viticultural joke—until recently. Emilia-Romagna’s signature wine, it turns out, is a natural match for the region’s rich, fatty foods, especially cured meats like prosciutto di Parma. And now that American chefs have jumped on the house-curing bandwagon, they’ve started to look at Lambrusco in a new light. “It’s the most delicious thing in the world,” says Prune’s Gabrielle Hamilton, who served it at her wedding. A growing number of local oenophiles agree.
Lambrusco’s recent revival can be traced to this unassuming spot, where Modenese chef-owner William Mattiello has amassed the city’s widest selection. “It’s a fresh young wine, it goes with almost anything.” Only the red, though: “Rosé and white, I have no respect for them.”
240 Park Avenue South, near 19th Street; 212-505-3072
Total Wine Bar
Owner Adam Robertson fell in love with Lambrusco at Via Emilia, and when he opened his wine bar this summer, he expected his customers to follow suit—“once they got over the fact that it’s cold and fizzy and red.” He went through a case on opening week.
74 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn 718-783-5166
This Carroll Gardens panini bar recently added the 2003 Medici Ermete Lambrusco to its wine list—a natural ﬁt, considering the menu’s emphasis on meats and cheeses. Will Americans drink chilled reds after Labor Day? Of course, says manager Aaron Epstein. “It’s a kind of autumnal wine.” And prosciutto, after all, knows no season.
275 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-237-2728