The SOMM Journal

June / July 2017

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Page 10 of 124

10 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2017 { editor's notebook } { the reading room } BACK IN THE DAY (I'm old enough, so I'm allowed to use that expression) Lambrusco was the best-selling wine in America. At its peak in the mid-'80s, Riunite was selling north of 11,500,000 cases (that's almost a million case a month). Lately the fad has cooled, but it may come as a surprise to today's somms to learn that there are still more than a million cases of that brand being sold in the U.S. every year. In a smart marketing move, the Mariani family found Lambrusco in Emilia-Romagna in the late 1960s and re- configured it. They made it fizzier and sweeter. Very rapidly it shot from 200 cases a year into the stratosphere. Well, I'm here to tell you that Lambrusco is back, and it's better than ever. Now, it's not the sweet, foamy Lambrusco of old; it's dry, elegant and terrific with food. The fact is, Lambrusco was cre - ated to go with food. The Emilia-Romagna region is north of Tuscany and straddles the Po River valley, the most fertile and productive agricultural region in Italy. It is also home to culi- nary centers such as Bologna (namesake of Bolognese sauce), Modena (home of balsamic vinegar) and Parma (famous for prosciutto and cheese). The food of the area is notoriously dense and fatty and a crisp, sparkling red wine is just the ticket to cut through this indigenous richness. Modern American restaurant food can be rich and dense. In many situations, Lambrusco is the ideal accompaniment. Unfortunately, many somms don't make that choice. They have the erroneous image of Lambrusco as a sweet, frivolous pop wine. They're way wrong. More and more Italian restaurants that serve rustic trattoria food have a Lambrusco or two on their wine lists. But there are many other places where this bright, tangy wine would be the ideal choice. Banfi, which owns Riunite, also imports more serious metodo ancestrale Lambruscos from Albinea Canali, part of its Cru Artisan series. If you don't have a Lambrusco on your list, give one a try. It will be a hand-sell, but I'm sure you'll make a lot of people very happy. —Anthony Dias Blue Lambrusco Is Back— Better Than Ever For newbs just getting into wine, Rosé Wine: The Guide to Drinking Pink by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW (Sterling Epicure, $19.95), focusing entirely on rosé, will be not only be use - ful but easy and enjoyable to read. For those of us already in the know, the first 30 or so pages will be a great refresher on the history of rosé, winemaking methods and other very helpful bits of information. You'll also get into a touch more depth of detail on rosé than you would in a general text on wine. The rest of the book involves a quiz designed to determine what type of rosé you (or your customers) like to drink, and the subsequent sections are filled with suggested producers adhering to these categories of inclination—again, something that might be more useful to a beginner than a professional. That said, it could be advantageous for a sommelier to gain a bit of insight from an incredibly savvy Master of Wines approach to categorizing the different basic styles of rosé (crisp, fruity, rich, blush) and the producers she suggests within these broad divi - sions. —Jessie Birschbach Alwyn Corban of Glazebrook, known locally in New Zealand as Ngatawara Wines, generously gifted me his copy of a new book, New Zealand: The Land, the Vines, the People, by Warren Moran (Hardie Grant, $60; available in July) as I chowed down on my last plate of food in Hawkes Bay and boarded a shuttle to the airport after vis - iting the country earlier this year. Igor Drecki, who has worked with the French AOC authorities, did the cartogra- phy, and it is as detailed and accurate as the Burgundian AOC Cru maps. For those interested in learning more about New Zealand wines past to present and the country's culture, and for my fellow map junkies, this is for you. —Catherine Falllis, MS See Catherine Fallis's current story on New Zealand on www. It's far from a consensus among professionals these days that France makes the greatest wines in the world, but in the not too distant past this was considered a given among enophiles. Somms who want to delve more deeply into the rea - sons for this should investigate French Wine: A History, by Rod Phillips (University of California Press, $34.95), which traces the history of these wines for the past 25 centuries. Thorough and scholarly, author Phillips refrains from romanticizing the past while giving France its due place and recognizing that the history of French wine is "inseparable from the history of France."

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