David and Jennifer Uygur, owners of Lucia and Macellaio, have been nothing if not nimble and inventive as, like others, they figure out what diners need and desire. They’ve been doing sandwiches—deluxe ones for two or four, in which everything, from bread to charcuterie is made in-house—and family meal kits, all available for curbside pickup as their dining rooms remain closed. And now, Lambrusco spritz kits that feature a wine that’s among Jennifer’s favorites.
If you balk at the mention of Lambrusco, take a beat. Lambrusco is the ill-understood, maligned whipping child of wines. But don’t think of the syrupy-sweet cheap stuff of the ’70s and ’80s marketed to “those Americans,” says Jennifer, the ones Italians thought guzzled Coca-Cola and fruit punch.
“I adore Lambrusco, and I think it gets a bad rap,” Jennifer says. “It’s one of my favorite summertime go-tos. It’s something light and sparkling, and when you want a red wine but it’s too damn hot to drink red, Lambrusco is one of my favorites. I think it’s important that people know that it’s not necessarily sweet; it’s extraordinarily refreshing.”
In fact, it really is a lovely wine from the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. Lambrusco has a signature fizz. Drink it chilled, always. It comes in many forms and indeed includes many grape varieties. There’s Lambrusco di Sorbara, a rosé style, which Jennifer describes as “dry and clean” and “all rhubarb and raspberry.” Sometimes this style has notes of watermelon or violets. And Lambrusco Grasparossa—the one she’s featuring now at Lucia and Macellaio—is deeper, darker, “like crushed blackberry and cherry,” she says. (It’s from one of the oldest producers in the area, Cleto Chiarli.) From sweet to dry, rosé to chillable red, the style includes even a white, given a secondary fermentation, like Champagne.
Drink it with spicy food, like the lamb merguez the kitchen is turning out this week, or Indian food you’ve picked up to go. “It actually goes really well with barbecue,” Jennifer says.
For the kits, Jennifer turned to the most refreshing iteration of the light-spirited wine she could imagine. Low-alcohol spritz kits have already been on her mind: their approachable quaffability is tied to the signature style at Macellaio. The Hugo Spritz kit, light and frizzante with Prosecco, serves eight. The new Lambrusco kit includes a bottle of the Cleto Chiarli, Topo Chico, and a concoction of almond-y, decadent Luxardo amarena cherry syrup. It also has a nimble riff on orange Cointreau and other liqueurs that play well together in a bubbly, refreshing sipper. Garnish with an orange wheel and Luxardo cherry.
I imagine some salumi would go well with that. Perhaps charcuterie by David like the fuzzy ropes of fuet, a Catalan-style sausage you can slice with your Opinel, or smoky sobrasada. Nosh on kettle potato chips and onion dip. A loaf of bread and paprika-laced hummus. The a la carte items the Uygurs’ menu offers lend themselves to that, and this of course, too, was part of the thinking.
The idea is that “maybe you want to hang out in someone’s backyard, which is what people are doing,” Jennifer says, and maybe that moves right into dinner al fresco. Or maybe you just keep it at a summertime socially distant gathering of friends.
“Look, we’re not all getting together for supper,” Jennifer says. But maybe this is all we want, we realize. You’ve got yourself a summer backyard picnic: a little lightness—a few bubbles—and something noshable and delicious. Yes, please.
Also, if you’ve never had Lambrusco, this is a pretty good way to try it.
The Details: Lambrusco spritz kits are part of curbside pickup orders posted weekly on Tuesdays. Pick up Thursday through Sunday. Order from the Macellaio or Lucia website. TLDR; have it with spicy foods, barbecue, or charcuterie.