Lambrusco Tasting at Osteria Morini

6 Lambrusco, Italian Sparkling Red Wines – Ranging from $7-$25, these wines range from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine. All 6 wines are easy to drink and are perfect for pairing with food. The blog post includes details from a wine pairing dinner. | AGlassAfterWork.com

6 Lambrusco, Italian Sparkling Red Wines – Ranging from $7-$25, these wines range from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine. All 6 wines are easy to drink and are perfect for pairing with food. The blog post includes details from a wine pairing dinner. | AGlassAfterWork.com

Banfi’s Lambrusco seminar at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC15) inspired the focus for this year’s tasting. In the WBC15 session, I learned that Lambrusco is the most purchased Italian red wine in U.S. retail chain stores. And, I realized that while I love ordering Lambrusco out at restaurants, I knew very little about the wine, I rarely bought a bottle to drink at home, and even less frequently wrote about it on the blog. So, I decided while still at the conference that 2016 was the year I would publically embrace Lambrusco, and what better way to do that than by organizing a Lambrusco wine dinner for my work colleagues.

Setup at Osteria Morini for 2016 Lambrusco Tasting

Setup at Osteria Morini for the Lambrusco tasting

At least once a year, my department does a team-building event. Several months after I started at this job, I offered to do an Albariño wine tasting for one of these gatherings. Since then, our annual staff bonding has occurred over food and wine. Usually, it’s just for the 15 people in my division that are located in DC. This year, however, the tasting ended up being while the regional members of our team were in town, so our size actually doubled. None of my coworkers are wine experts and only a couple could even recall ever having a Lambrusco before our dinner.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the wine, Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine made from a family of grapes that are unique to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This northern part of the country is about the size of Massachusetts and is particularly well known for the food that comes from the area. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Lambrusco makes for a perfect wine pairing with many of these items.

As luck would have it, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in DC–Osteria Morini–specializes in food from the Emilia-Romagna, so there was no question about holding the wine tasting dinner there.

Lineup for 2016 Lambrusco Tasting

Lambrusco tasting lineup

There were 6 different Lambruschi (the plural of Lambrusco), ranging from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine.

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara (winery)
SRP: $15 (purchased in restaurant for $40 a bottle)
Grapes: 90% Lambrusco di Sorbara and 10% Lambrusco Salamino
Medium pink color with flecks of ruby and a pale pink foam
Roses and violets mixed with strawberries and raspberries
Lighter bodied with bright acidity.
3.5 Corks

Albinea Canali "FB" Lambrusco

Albinea Canali “FB” Lambrusco

Albinea Canali “FB” (winery, snooth)
SRP: $20 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: 100% Lambrusco Sorbara
Pinkish-red
Fresh and fruity with lots of strawberries and hints of yeastiness that comes from the second fermentation in the bottle
Lighter bodied with refreshing tartness
Dry
4 Corks

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero (winery, snooth)
SRP: $20 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: 50% Lambrusco Salamino, 40% Lambrusco Grasparossa, and 10% Lancellotta
Darker ruby with hints of purple and a pinkish foam
Cherries and blackcurrant on the nose
Flower petals and sour cherry in the mouth
Dry, almost bitter finish with bright acidity, but pleasantly so.
3.5 Corks

Riunite

Riunite

Riunite (website, snooth)
SRP: $7 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco Montericco, and Lancellotta
Dark ruby with hints of violet and purplish, foamy top.
Big and fruity—strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries
Medium bodied with soft tannins.
Sweet
4.5 Corks

Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa

Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa

2013 Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno
Cost: $25 from Wine Library
Grapes: 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa
Dark, purplish ruby with a nice foam top
Mixture of strawberries and blackberries with hints of sour cherry, rose petals, and something herby
Medium bodied with soft tannins
Hint of sweetness
4.5 Corks

Bell'Agio

Bell’Agio

Bell’Agio (website, snooth)
SRP: $15 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Grasparossa
Dark ruby with hints of purple and foamy top
Mixture of raspberry and blackberries
Full-bodied with a bit of acid and soft tannins
Luscious and sweet
4 Corks

2016 Lambrusco Tasting Menu at Osteria Morini

2016 Lambrusco Tasting Menu at Osteria Morini

What I still love about these wine dinners is that they’re not just about the wines, but also about experiencing the wines with good food and company. And, the restaurant definitely didn’t let us down when it came to good food.

cheese and charcuterie board

cheese and charcuterie board

The evening started with a cheese and charcuterie board to go with our first Lambrusco–the Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara, which is the only bottle we opened from the restaurants wine list. The Lambrusco and the boards were enjoyed cocktail hour style, with everyone standing our talking, eating, and sipping away. After that, we sat down to dinner at two long tables, where we indulged in a 4-course, family style dinner.

The Antipasti Course - Polpo alla Piastra, Polpettine, and Burrata

The Antipasti Course – Polpo alla Piastra, Polpettine, and Burrata

After the about 30 minutes of standing around talking, we settled into our seats for dinner. The Albinea Canali “FB” was served with the antipasti course–Polpo alla Piastra (charred octopus, fregola, and tomato); Polpettine (mortadella & prosciutto meatballs, pomodoro), which is one of my favorite dishes at Osteria Morini, and Burrata (house-made mozzarella, grapefruit, and pistachio). The FB is a lighter, drier style of Lambrusco. And, while the FB paired nicely with all three dishes, I could not get enough of combining it with the octopus. I kept taking a sip of wine, then a bit of octopus, and another sip of wine. It was one of the few dishes I went back for seconds on, even knowing how much more food was left to come.

The Primi course (rigitoni, gramigna, and cassarecce) with the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

The Primi course (rigitoni, gramigna, and cassarecce) with the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

For the second course (or Primi course), we opened the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero to drink with three different pasta dishes–a Rigatoni (made with braised wild mushrooms, rosemary oil, and parmigiano), a Gramigna (made with pork sausage, carbonara, and pecorino), and a Cassarecce (a squid ink pasta with scallops, squid, rapini, and calabrian chili). The Gramigna is usually my go-to dish at the restaurant, but I think that’s because I never had the Cassarecce before. The Cassarecce was my favorite of the night, and when put with the acidity and flavors of the Lambrusco, both the food and the wine came to life in a way that took what was already enjoyable individually and just made them sing together.

The main course (or secondi) actually featured two Lambruschi–Riunite and 2013 Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno–and they were paired with several different types of meats–Anatra (duck breast, spaetzle, trumpet mushrooms, spinach, radish); Branznio (Mediterranean seabass, chickpeas, charred broccoli, taggaisca olives, and bagna cauda); and Grigliata Mista (lamb porterhouse, pork ribs, chicken sausage, and hanger steak). Our side dishes, which I somehow missed getting a picture of, were Patata Fritti (crispy red bliss potatoes with pecorino) and Spinaci (buttered spinach).

The Secondi Course - Anatra, Branzino, and Grigliata Mista

The Secondi Course – Anatra, Branzino, and Grigliata Mista

The Riunite has a bit of sweetness, definitely more than the Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno, but that made the pairings even more interesting because everyone agreed that both wines matched the food beautifully. Several coworkers mentioned that they never really experienced a “good” pairing and the difference it can make in how the wine and the food both taste, but that this course really highlighted the possibilities for them.

It’s also worth noting that during this course, we tasted both the least and most expensive wines of the night. Interestingly, they were also both the favorite wines of the night. When it came to these two in particular, since we were tasting side-by-side, I asked everyone to show their hand for preferences before reveling the cost of the retail cost of the wines, and it was split almost exactly down the middle.

Dolci course with the Bell'Agio

Dolci course with the Bell’Agio

Finally, we finished the evening off with our last Lambrusco–the Bell’Agio–and dessert (Dolci course). This Lambrusco was the sweetest of the night, and its sweetness was particularly nice with the flavors of the Tiramisu (mascarpone mousse, lady finger, amaretto, and coffee crema) and Torta al Cioccolato (chocolate ganache and praline crunch).

Overall, the tasting was a huge success! I’ve had several coworkers follow-up when they’ve ordered Lambrusco at a restaurant or bought a bottle to share at home, and that is the ultimate sign of success for me. A special thanks to Joe and Dino at Banfi for generously providing 4 of the 6 wines we tasted and to Jonna, Rubio, and the rest of the Osteria Morini DC team for an unforgettably delicious evening.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had Lambrusco? If so, what are your thoughts on the type of wine? Do you have a favorite?

Snowzilla Day 3 – Morning Sun & a South African Chenin Blanc

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Snowzilla Day 3 - A view of people walking in the middle of the street from the balcony

People walking in the middle of the street

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 1 , Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2), and Snowzilla Day 4**

By Day 3 of Snowzilla, most of the snow had stopped. We woke up in the morning to 2 feet of snow, which required some final shoveling, particularly when it came to digging out the car. However, for the most part, that Sunday was about enjoying being snowed in without snow falling and walking around the neighborhood. Hubby and I had a leftovers from the two big meals he made at the beginning of the storm, not to mention cheese and prosciutto left. Instead of going for another red, though, the warmer weather and sunshine called for a white wine to go with the historic snowfall we were digging out from.

Hubby in yellow digging out the car from 2 ft of snow

Hubby in yellow digging out the car from under 2 ft of snow

The 2014 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc (snooth, winery) is from Stellenbosch, South Africa and is made with 100% Chenin Blanc grapes. The wine was a medium lemon yello color. On the nose, there were white flowers and peaches mixed with a hint of honey, pear, and ginger. In the mouth there were pears, flowers, peaches, and apricots with hints of honest and ginger. This wine is medium-to-full bodied, with nice acidity and a long finish.

2014 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc – At $35, this white wine from South Africa is a dry, but luscious wine that is incredibly food friendly and easy to sip. The flavors are all flowers and peaches with hints of ginger, and it’s long finish lingers in the mouth bringing a smile to the face. Ratings 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $35, this wine is probably a little price for an everyday wine, but this is a wine to grab for a nice Friday or Saturday night dinner or to open at the start of a night with friends. It’s incredibly food-friendly and easy to sip.

The snow stopped, but 2ft piled up against our back door, which turned our back patio into a "snowbox."

The snow stopped, but 2ft piled up against our back door, which turned our back patio into a “snowbox.”

According to the website, DeMorgenzon  means “the morning sun.”  While I didn’t know that when I opened the bottle, it was perfectly named for when I opened it.  The sunny, cloudless morning made for a beautiful winter day, and the Chenin Blanc made for a beautiful wine.  It brought a smile to my face…particularly nice a cold walk, in front of a warm fire, and cuddled up with Hubby.

Question of the Day: Do you tend to spend less on wine that you buy to open during the week than on the wine that you open over the weekend?  What’s your price range for an weekday bottle of wine?   

 

Suggested Retail Price: $35
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2) – Sparkling Pinot & Snow

Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir – At $35, this sparkling red wine from California is food-friendly and easy to drink. It’s worth considering the next time you have a dinner party, are hosting a holiday meal, or are looking to curl up on the couch with a delicious bottle of something different. Rating 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 1 , Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 3and Snowzilla Day 4**

Something about snowy weather makes me want to drink red wine, but since Snowzilla was such a unique occasion in DC, I also really wanted to drink something special and unique. That’s why, on the second day of Snowzilla, I decided to open Mumm’s Sparkling Pinot Noir.

Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir (winery) is a sparking red wine made in Napa Valley, California with 100% Pinot Noir grapes. The wine had a deep ruby red color with flecks of purple and a nice purple fizz top when it was poured. On the noise, there were plums and cherries mixed with a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth, there were plums and cherries mixed with cloves and cinnamon, a hint of creaminess, and some chocolate dust. The wine had small persistent bubbles, medium tannins, and good acidity.

Snowzilla Day 2 - Me walking into the front yard in the evening to discover we had 22 inches of snow

Snowzilla Day 2 – Me walking into the front yard in the evening to discover we had 22 inches of snow

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $35, this wine is both delicious and an interesting conversation piece, so it’s worth the extra effort of going to the winery’s website to buy it (that’s the only place it can be purchased). Most people haven’t tasted a red sparkling wine, and if they have, it was most likely a sparkling Shiraz from Australia or a Lambrusco from Italy. This is not like either, although it’s more comparable to a Lambrusco.  The Mumm Sparkling Pinot is balanced with deep flavor and a hint of sweetness, while also being crisp and refreshing.

Snowzilla cheese, charcuterie, and Crunchmaster crackers

Snowzilla cheese, charcuterie, and Crunchmaster crackers

I enjoyed this wine throughout the day. I opened it to go with an after-shoveling snack of cheese, charcuterie, and Crunchmaster gluten-free crackers. The wine tasted like it was made to go with the prosciutto. Both the bubbles and the acidity helped cut through the fattiness of the meat, while the flavors of the wine complimented the flavors of the prosciutto. Not to mention that I couldn’t have asked for a better cheese to eat with the wine than the truffle gouda because the earthiness of the cheese brought out the deeper flavors of the wine.

Hubby's slow cooker chili and Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir

Hubby’s slow cooker chili and Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir

For dinner, I drank the wine with Hubby’s crockpot chili. Admittedly, the sparkler was a touch better with charcuterie and cheese earlier in the day, but it held up nicely with the heaviness of chili, especially because the touch of sweetness from the wine balanced out the little bit of spiciness from the chili.

All in all, the Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir was the perfect bottle to enjoy through the day, whether it was with food or in front of the fire knitting. It was an easy sipper that offered something a little different. And, while I enjoyed it during a winter snowstorm, because it’s so food-friendly and easy to drink, this wine is also worth considering the next time you are having a dinner party or hosting a holiday meal.

Question of the Day: What are your thoughts on red sparkling wine?

Price: $35
Purchased at Mumm Napa
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Snowzilla Day 1: A Few Inches and a Bouchaine Cabernet

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 -- Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 — Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2)Snowzilla Day 3and Snowzilla Day 4**

As Monday January 18 started, so did the rumblings that DC might get a really big snowstorm at the end of the week. In fact, everyone was so focused on Friday’s impending storm that very little attention was paid to the 1-3 inches that were predicted for mid-week. Thankfully, I walk to work, so I wasn’t one of the unfortunate Washingtonians who had more than a 7-hour drive home on icy, untreated roads, but I definitely heard the stories. The debacle of Wednesday started panic about what was in store for the more than 2 feet of snow that was expected later in the week. By the time Friday rolled around, my office decided we could all work from home in the morning and then we would close in the afternoon when the federal government closed.

The snow started around 1:30pm, and by the time we did our last shoveling of the night, there were still only a few inches on the ground. However, like most Washingtonians, we were prepared for Snowzilla. We made sure there was enough “snow day” type food, but also some well-planned out wine options. On that first night, Hubby made homemade tomato sauce with brown rice pasta, and I opened up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from one of my wine clubs that I’d been saving.

2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – At $70, this small production red wine from is a great option for special occasions. It’s easy to drink, very food friendly, and incredibly delicious. Cheers! Ratings 5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comThe 2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is from the Combsville area of Napa, California. The wine was a deep purple color. On the nose, there were a lot of dark fruits–black plums, blackberries, and black cherries–mixed with a hint of baking spices. In the mouth, there were black plums and cherries mixed with cinnamon and hints of nutmeg and smoke. The wine was full bodied with good acid and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $70, there is no doubt that this wine is expensive, but it’s also absolutely delicious. Only 505 cases were produced, so it’s small production, and it’s a wine that is very enjoyable now, but also has enough structure and flavor that it could be cellared for at least another 5 years. Unfortunately, when I went to go buy another couple of bottles to hold onto for a while, it looks like the winery is already sold out.

Spaghetti and sauce for Snowzilla night 1The wine was one I drank leisurely through the first night of the blizzard. It was a nice accompaniment to Hubby’s homemade sauce, and it was the perfect for cuddling up on the couch in front of a fire after our last round of shoveling for the night.

Overall, at this price range, this is a special occasion type of wine. And, if you’re looking for that special bottle, particularly one to go with a hearty meal or vibrant conversation, this is a wine you should consider.

Question of the Day:  Do you live in an area that gets a lot of snow?  Is alcohol something that you stock up on in your snowstorm preparations?  What’s your go-to snow day choice?

Price: $70
Purchased at Bouchaine Vineyards Wine Club
Overall: 5 Corks

Celebrating 7 Years of Blogging with a Coppola Cab

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Francis Ford Coppola Winery cork 2013It’s hard to believe, but 7 years ago yesterday I posted my first wine review, which was of Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s 2006 Diamond Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.  Since then, I’ve tried to celebrate my blogiversary with a Coppola wine, and this year is no different.  I spent Saturday morning running errands before heading to an early afternoon knitting class to work on my lace knitting technique. After knitting, Hubby and I did our taxes, and then settled into a relaxing evening.  I opened a Coppola wine, grabbed the shawl I was working on in my knitting class, and watched a good Saturday night movie.

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was from the Alexander Valley in California and was made with 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, and 5% Cabernet Franc grapes.  The wine was a deep, blood-like red.  On the nose, there were strawberries, blackberries, and black cherries followed by hints of vanilla, lavender, smoke, and cocoa.  In the mouth, there were Bing and black cherries and blackberries mixed with vanilla, licorice, hints of something floral.  The wine had a medium-to-full body with medium acid and nice tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At an SRP of $24, this wine is very approachable whether it’s on its own or with food. It just needs a little time to breath before drinking. Admittedly, the smoke on the nose had me expecting a deeper, more brooding wine but it’s not.  Instead this is a serious wine that is fun with fruit upfront, some savory notes in the middle, and a finish that lingered and left me wanting more.

I paired the Director’s Cut Cab with breakfast-for-dinner, which included eggs made with an extra sharp cheddar, bacon, and toast.  This wine was surprisingly good with both the very cheesy eggs and the bacon.  That said, there was nothing quite like drinking it while watching the 2007 Best Picture winner, Atonement, which I never saw, and knitting with plush, velvety yarn. The combination of the movie, the wine, and the yarn was a perfect way to spend Saturday after a really busy week.

Question of the Day: If you’re a blogger, do you celebrate your blogiversary? How?

Special thanks to all of you wonderful readers
for sharing some great (and not so great) wines and beer with me
over the last 7 years!

Suggested Retail Price: $24
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks