Bing Cherries
Luscious black cherries, preserved in Merlot, add instant gourmet glamour to everything from plain grilled meats to ice cream. Photography by Claire Freierman, using Bodum’s double-insulated Assam glasses—perfect for hot or cold beverages, or serving desserts and condiments, too.



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KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.



June 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Condiments

Robert Lambert Preserved Fruit

Wine-Soaked Grape & Cherry Garnishes For Almost Any Food


CAPSULE REPORT: If you haven’t bought artisan preserved fruits before, you’re in for a treat. Just a few fruits of these wine-and-vinegar preserved delicacies on each plate turn a regular meal into a restaurant entrée, a plain scoop of ice cream into something that deserves a fancy French name. Robert Lambert, one of our favorite artisan producers, has created another all-natural hit, using the finest ingredients.

Robert Lambert is one of America’s great food artisans. He runs a boutique operation in California, the land of plenty. Within an hour’s drive or so, heritage fruits grow on trees owned by families for generations—small amounts of fruit waiting to be harvested and turned into microbatches of delicacies for those in the know.

Robert preserves the fruits in wine, vinegar, herbs and spices, plus a small amount of sweetener (sugar and/or honey or grape juice). He likes to serve them on the plate next to meat or fish, like a pickle or a chutney, or in a ramekin on the side with the equally delicious preserving syrup. We like spooning both fruit and syrup over the meat or fish. It’s easy to deglaze the pan with some of the syrup and some stock to make a delicious sauce. We also love the fruits on top of ice cream, sorbet and plain cakes, where they turn something simple but good into something memorable. Add a bit of Chantilly (whipped cream), a mint or rosemary sprig, and suddenly a plain slice of pound cake becomes a “gâteau” that you can name after yourself or the guest of honor.

Preserved Fruit Varieties

All three varieties are a very unusual combination of fruits marinated in a wine- and vinegar-based light syrup (the syrup is the consistency of wine and vinegar, not reduced thickened). Those who enjoy a fine vinegar will appreciate how it unites with the wine to create very complex flavors.

Black Grapes In Pinot Noir Syrup
Add Black Grapes to most meats and as a
condiment with sharp cheeses.

Black Grapes In Pinot Noir Syrup
These grapes are a match made in heaven with lamb or duck, but are so versatile, they can accompany most meat courses, the cheese course and ice cream or pound cake. The flavor is complex. We’re going to use Robert’s tasting notes, because we love them: hints of rare scented geranium, lemon verbena, black pepper, exotic tea, blackberry, anise, cardamom and bergamot.

Serve With: Beef, duck, foie gras, ham, lamb or pork tenderloin; for dessert with sharp cheeses or ice cream and pound cake (with whipped cream).

By the way, the way to tell the difference between the black grapes and the black cherries in these photos: The grape skins wrinkle when preserved, the black cherry skins stay firm.

Green Grapes In Chardonnay Syrup
The humble green grape has never been elevated to such heights! They give new excitement to Sole Veronique, a dish made with white grapes.

The fruits have complex hints of lavender, scented geranium, lemon verbena, white pepper, vanilla, basil, honey, bay leaf, apple, bergamot and Earl Gray tea. Robert says that this variety is a favorite of Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles.

Serve With: Chicken, fish, pasta with cream sauce; in salads (green salads, elegant chicken and seafood salads); with mild soft cheeses; with citrus sorbet.

Green Grapes In Chardonnay
Add Green Grapes to chicken, fish and salads.
Dark Cherries
Serve Dark Cherries with almost any roasted or grilled meat.

Dark Cherries In Merlot Syrup
The best seller, these cherries still have their pits, but don’t let that keep you away. The fruity merlot enhances the smooth-skinned cherries, and the combination yields complex hints of raspberry, scented geranium, galangal root, bergamot, black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla and bay leaf.

Serve With: Almost any grilled or roasted meat—beef, chicken, duck, game hen, lamb, pork, quail. Not pitted. We added them to Mercer’s Cherry Merlot ice cream and culinary fireworks erupted!

Any of these preserved fruits is a lovely gifts or stocking stuffer for a cooking enthusiast...or a fine food fan who isn’t into elaborate cooking, but wants to turn something grilled into something great.


Black Cherries In Merlot Syrup, Black Grapes In Pinot Noir Syrup, Green Grapes In Chardonnay Syrup

  • 8-Ounce Jar

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*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. These items are offered by a third party and THE NIBBLE has no relationship with them. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.

Robert Lambert Preserved Fruits