In the dog days of summer, has rosé become boring?
Rosé may have become over-produced, and the average quality may have slipped. I’ve been less enthusiastic about rosé this season and have even been accused of having a lingering rosé sensory blindspot from a 2020 bout with COVID-19.
But the tasty bubblies from Italy have come to the rescue, bursting with flavor and crackling with acidity. They offer a perfect refresher for a hot day.
Everyone recognizes the name Lambrusco, from a certain towering brand. Lambrusco is a family of wine grapes in Northern Italy and also lends its name to some wine regions.
Full-flavored and off-dry, Vecchia Modena Cleto Chiarli e Figli Modena is made from the red grape Lambrusa di Sorbara and is a sparkler with notes of red raspberry and rhubarb plus a tangy, acidic zing. This is as good and classy a Lambrusco as you likely will find, and red sparkling wines of any kind are a unique treat. $18. ♦♦♦♦
The screwcap-topped Riondo Prosecco Spago Nero is a light and simple lightly sparkling wine with lime character. Refreshing, delightful and dry to off-dry, it’s a good stand-in for vinho verde. Also, this wine is perfect for someone dabbling in low-alcohol cocktails made with sparkling wine. $12. ♦♦♦♦
If you want a sweeter sparkling, try an asti. Asti are made from grapes in the muscat (moscato) family, telling you a lot about the character of the wine, which tastes like fruit salad in a glass.
Martini & Rossi Asti Sparkling Wine offers an explosive flavor of fruit and cream, ripe mandarine orange and honey. But to be sure, it is quite sweet and may be more suitable for dessert. $15. ♦♦♦♦
Prosecco and asti are affordable because they are carbonated by more affordable methods than Champagne and so-called traditional or classic methods. For an experience more like Champagne from Italy, you can try the excellent wines from Franciacorta.
GRADE: Exceptional ♦♦♦♦♦, Above average ♦♦♦♦, Good ♦♦♦, Below average ♦♦, Poor ♦