Warmer weather is just about here. We all know what that means. Patio furniture gets hosed off, the white & floral print ensembles come out and wide, floppy hats have some faces to smack.
It's brunch season. Wait, brunch happens all year. It doesn't matter - it's a beautiful day out and we're going to day drink over some eggs benny, Jenny.
It's difficult to stray far from the bottomless champagne option. It's a classy, tasty beverage that pairs well with just about any brunch item and cleanses the palate in hot weather.
Even if it's relatively shitty sparkling wine, you'll hardly notice after your 6th "top off".
Despite its comfortable familiarity, sometimes an alternative to champagne is good for the soul. No, not mango juice or a strawberry to toss in it. I'm talking about a fizzy replacement that's just as versatile and twice as interesting.
Ever heard of Lambrusco? It's been around forever (like, B.C. forever) and hasn't always had a stellar reputation. Many have regarded it as a sugary, cheap substitute for the inexperienced wine drinker's champagne.
They're dead wrong. Not only are the best Lambrusco's only a touch sweet and lightly effervescent, they're equally good on their own as well as the foundation of a wine cocktail.
One of the more interesting and modern Lambruscos out there right now is Red Lyons.
Produced in the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy - just about the only province you'll find quality Lambrusco made - Red Lyons is an untraditional label on a super old grape. It's irreverent and satisfying in both design and taste.
By far, the best part of Red Lyons is the overall experience. This Italian juice comes in a blood-red (and surprisingly heavy) bottle that is more opaque than Lambrusco itself. It's difficult to tell what the hell is in it or just how much there is.
"That mystery is completely intentional", Chris Lyons, proprietor of Red Lyons, tells me. "The bottle should be reflective of the environment you're enjoying it in; care-free and without worry about what remains."
Just as striking as the bottle is the actual juice. This Lambrusco is dark, dark red yet deceivingly light. It's wild to see a layer of foam on top of a deep purple wine as it comes out of the bottle. Almost like a barrel-aged stout wearing lipstick.
Red Lyons, like most Lambruscos, is mild in alcohol content. Its 8.5% buzz level has the day drinking seal of approval. Which also means it's a great mixer for batch-style drinks such as sangria.
The fruit-forward, frizzante foundation of Lambrusco inherently lends a refreshing flavor to a brunch cocktail that doesn't need much else. Except, perhaps, more of it.
Lambrusco is typically easy on the wallet and a quality one will range you 30-40 bucks. You can snag Red Lyons in packs of three or six via a direct order. Enjoy!