Everyone needs a bottle of wine that is dependable for all occasions, the kind that should be stashed in the fridge or the wine rack at all times for unexpected guests, impromptu get-togethers, or that “I deserve a glass of wine right now” moment. It should be affordable, versatile, and, above all, delicious. In the summer months — well, any month, really — is there anything that hits the spot more than fizzy pink juice? We think not. And once you try the Cleto Chiarli ‘Vecchia Modena’ Lambrusco, which I happily got to know very well when it was offered by-the-glass at a previous restaurant, you’ll be sure to have a chilled bottle at all times.

Cleto Chiarli's Lambrusco is a good wine you can actually find

Lambrusco is commonly known in its most classic iteration, a sparkling red than can either be sweet, as was the fashion in previous decades, or dry, as many more producers are vinifying it today. But Lambrusco is actually a family of grapes rather than a single variety, and it makes a range of wines. One clone, Lambrusco di Sorbara, has thinner skins than the rest, so it tends to produce lighter-colored wines — hence this rosé cuvée. While some may be thrown off by the color, this is actually a super high-quality wine in a sea of Lambrusco plonk.

With a frothy pink cotton candy-like color, the Vecchia Modena isn’t aggressively bubbly, but it is super refreshing, with citrus, red cherry, and strawberry fruit. The finish is tart and bright, like perfectly balanced lemonade, washing the palate with each and every sip. In fact, the most difficult thing about this wine may be opening it, since instead of a traditional cage there is a metal clamp over the cork. Just insert the knife of your wine key between the clamp and the cork and twist away from you in order to pry it off.

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Voila! Summer standard, ready to go.

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