It’s fun, fizzy, and frolicky. When it comes to pairing food with Lambrusco, the rule is don’t overthink it. Just drink it before it falls flat with these "fast" foods.
Lambrusco is one of the most food friendly, all around, Italian wines next door. Much like Riesling, orange wine, and sparkling wines, it will play well with a variety of Asian foods too.
What is Lambrusco?
Lambrusco seems to have gotten a bad rap in the swirling 70s along when people were apparently looking for wines that tasted like soda pop.
Sweet Lambrusco flooded the US market (along with some very sweet Rieslings), but now you can find styles ranging from dry to sweet, or dolce as they would say in Italian.
According to Eric Asimov writing in the New York Times, "a good lambrusco is dry and fresh — frothy and almost purple in its classic version, yes, but full of tangy fruit and subtle, earthy flavors that are ideal on a summer night."
According to Asimov, Lambrusco also "pairs perfectly with the rich, flavorful food of Emilia."
Foods from the Emilia Romagna region in Italy include:
- Bolognese Ragu tomato sauce
- Stuffed pasta - tortellini, ravioli, cannelloni
- Prosciutto di Parma
- Parmaggiano Reggiano
- Grano Padano cheese
- Balsamico di Modena
- Gnocchi potato pasta
What about the rich, flavorful foods of America? Especially the fast foods we know and love?
What is Fast Food?
Fast food can be defined in two ways:
- A convenience item found on American roadsides, often with a drive-thru window
- Food that is fast to make. By "fast," I mean food you can make in 15 minutes or less.
This is not to say that Lambrusco is necessarily best paired with fast food but more of a reverse exercise in wine snobbery.
Can Lambrusco elevate fast foods and turn them into a more refined dining experience?
Top 5 "Fast" Foods Paired with Lambrusco
#1 Chicken a l'orange a la Panda Express
Chinese takeout can pair with other wines, such as Gewürztraminer and Zinfandel. However, for the classic Orange Chicken from our favorite non-kungfu fighting panda bear, a dark Lambrusco would be my pick.
Orange chicken is sweet, and sugary foods will strip most wines of any flavor. A dry, inky Lambrusco, on the other hand, will not be overpowered by some sweetness, and you will taste more of the dark fruit and earthy notes in the wine.
Besides, the spongy crust on that deep fried orange chicken, reminiscent of styrofoam peanuts, needs some bubbles, like Lambrusco or even beer.
#2 Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Ravioli
Continuing the sweet theme of sugary foods that count as dinner, have you tasted Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Ravioli? Sugar is added to the addictive squash filling making it more like ravioli candy.
It also takes just 3 minutes to cook in a pot of bubbling water. Once drained, glug on some olive oil, heaping spoonfuls of parmesan cheese, and some toasted nuts for crunch.
The sweet squash contrasted with salty, milky cheese is divine on its own and easily handled with the Lambrusco. The wine became more creamy and brought out the dark fruit and cherry notes.
#3 Strawberry Arugula Salad with Balsamico
Instead of added sugar, how about natural sugar in a summer sweet strawberry salad?
Ripe, red strawberries in peak season, sans any white shoulders, actually become sweeter when you contrast them with a few additional flavors.
Laid on a bed of garden fresh baby arugula, drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and dusted with a few cracks of fresh black pepper, strawberries make for a savory fruit salad.
Paired with Lambrusco, the salad brings out the crispness in the wine, with more unsweetened cranberry juice and acidity coming to the forefront.
#4 Salami Plate
Lambrusco is a natural pairing with cured meats, such as salami, mortadella, and capicola.
Salami plus Lambrusco is a classic pairing and party starter. In fact, a charcuterie and cheese plate must be the easiest and quickest appetizer, snack, or even dinner to assemble.
Paired with the Lambrusco, the salami coats your mouth with fat, and the wine becomes tarter, like raspberries in winter. That is just the palate cleansing needed so you can take another bite of salami.
#5 Beef Ramen Noodle Stir Fry
These beef noodle stir fry made from instant ramen packets found in many American households of all income levels comes together in just 15 minutes.
The Lambrusco holds up nicely to them too. The hint of sweetness in a dry Lambrusco matches the sweet note in the oyster sauce used to flavor the noodles.
- For foods that you would normally pair with beer, try Lambrusco for less carbs.
- Pair with dinner foods that are sweet like strawberry salad or orange chicken.
- Although Lambrusco does pair well with many foods, I would avoid it with dessert and spicy food.
- If pairing Lambrusco Sorbara, stick with something light and refreshing rather than its darker colored counterparts that can generally pair with everything.
For more information on Lambrusco and the foods you can pair with it, check out what the #Italianfwt group has to say:
- Jill at L'Occasion shares "La Collina Biodynamic Bubbles -- Lambrusco!"
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm highlights "Lambrusco? Really??"
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen will showcase "Top 5 Fast Food Pairings with Lambrusco"
- Jeff at Food Wine Click will share "Lambrusco Shines with Red Fizz and Fun"
- Cindy of Grape Experiences will feature "Italian Old-School Classics: Easy Drinking Lambrusco with Spicy Vegetarian Pensa Romana"
- Marcia of the Joy of Wine will be highlighting "Lambrusco - The Star of Emilia-Romagna"
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass will be sharing "Drinking Lambrusco in Strawberry Season"
- Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings is focused on "Picnicking with Scarpetta Frico Lambrusco"
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish will be sharing "Revisiting Lambrusco with Francesco Vezzelli Rive dei Ciliegi"
- Nicole with Somm's Table shares "Cooking to the Wine: Pezzuoli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro with Antipasto Pizza"
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator will be showcasing "Bugno Martino's Organic Lambrusco Defy Expectations"
- Susannah of Avvinare will be featuring "Sparkling Lambrusco from Vitivinicola Rota"
- Jennifer of Vino Travels shares "Over 150 Years of Dedication to Lambrusco with Cleto Chiarli"
Do you love Lambrusco? Please spread the ♥ and share!
Susannah Lynn Gold says
This is such a great complete post. I love your examples, your versatility with foods, and your writing. Of course I also love that you agree that Lambrusco is so food friendly. Fantastic post and writing. Kudos to you. Only problem is now I am hungry fpr fast food
What a great idea to pair Lambrusco with fast- or easy-to-make foods! I will keep each of them in mind for those busy weeks when there's no time to cook and have a bottle of Lambrusco on hand - which will be much more often after revisiting it for this event!
Thanks so much Lauren! I will be revisiting Lambrusco more often as well. 🙂
Jill Barth says
This is so much fun!
Thanks so much Jill! 🙂
Some fun ideas for pairing with Lambrusco. I love that you featured takeout or fast to make foods. Life is full of evenings needing something quick, nice to have a good wine to pair!
Thanks Jeff! So true that there are too many evenings without much time to cook or I just don't feel like it lol. 🙂
Love the advice not to overthink it. So true! Different foods bring out different sides if this versatile wine.
Thanks Linda! Lambrusco is SO versatile and one of my all time faves.
Nicole Ruiz Hudson says
It looks like you had so much fun with these pairings. I love the idea of Lambrusco with the stir-fry noodles and the balsamic strawberries. Yum!
Ah yes, I did really enjoy this because I truly do love Lambruscos. Thank you for stopping by!
Wendy Klik says
Love your pairing tips. I found the Lambrusco very food friendly as well. Laughed at your comparison of Lambrusco to pop. I compared it to koolaid in my article.
Thank you Wendy! Koolaid is a spot on comparison too!
Pinny Tam says
I counted twice - 3 Lambruscos and 1 Balsamic vinegar! This is an awesome post with the smart pairing with the "fast" food that most people eat often to the Lambruscos. Modena must be a major exporter of Balsamic vinegar. I have a bottle of it too 🙂
Thanks Pinny! I really love my bottle of aged balsamico from Modena. Hope you do too. 🙂
Camilla at Culinary Adventures says
Nice commentary! And I will definitely be chilling some Lambrusco for fast food nights. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Camilla! 🙂