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Charming Lambrusco

By June 19, 2024No Comments

I must admit I love Lambrusco. I’ve convinced many friends over the past 15 years to give it a chance. My favorite Lambrusco memories include drinking it from small bowls during a research trip to Emilia-Romagna with Carolyn and Eleonora, toasting with Francesco at an Enoteca in Bologna, and walking amongst the vineyards of two women wine makers with their dogs running beside us. If you associate this sparkling red wine to the old versions that were sweet and cloying, think again. Let me introduce you to charming Lambrusco.

drinking lambrusco from bowls

The reaction that I still receive when I talk about Lambrusco is “you mean that bubblegum sparkling wine?”
While the sweet bazooka bubblegum-like versions still exist, grazie to the 1970s wine boom, that’s not my style of Lambrusco. The one I drink is a versatile, dry, bubbly friend, he’s the drink that you can’t help but love.

lambrusco grapes

The Legacy of Lambrusco

“Lambrusco” refers to both the grape variety and the wine produced from it. Native to Italy, the Lambrusco family of grapes are believed to date back to the 1st century BCE. Varieties include Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco Maestri, and Lambrusco di Sorbara, each with a unique taste.

Today the best Lambruscos and my favorites are dry (secco) and semi-dry (semisecco). They are mostly made in a semi-sparkling style. Its flavors often include notes of cherries, berries, and violets. The incredibly versatile wine pairs with a range of foods from its best friend Parmigiano Reggiano, to Japanese-style barbecue.

Lambrusco Wines to Try

labrusco sottobosco

Lambrusco Grasparossa

My go-to BBQ companion: wines made with Lambrusco Grasparossa have flavors of dark berries like blackberries and blueberries to name a few. The relatively high tannin and creaminess is a palate pleaser along side grilled sausages. Search for wines labeled as Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro which are made predominately with this grape.

lambrusco in parmaLambrusco Salamino

Another BBQ favorite, this Lambrusco takes its name “Salamino” from its small salami-shaped grape clusters. It most likely originates from the from the town of Santa Croce di Carpi in the province of Modena. This variety has flavors of cherries and violets with standup tannin and are usually dark red/purple in color. It’s most often made in the semisecco and dolce styles. Pair it with a burger. Find it labeled as Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce.

salsiccia di bra

photo by giornale del cibo

Lambrusco Maestri

Lambrusco Maestri from Parma makes rather rustic wines, with soft bubbles and hints of milk chocolate. It’s difficult to find it produced as a single varietal. If you happen across a bottle, enjoy it with pizza Margherita or pizza topped with grilled sausage.

lambrusco & pizzaLambrusco di Sorbara

Last but not least, Lambrusco di Sorbara may be the most respected variety, producing refreshing and frothy, food-friendly wine. Usually dry or off dry and deep cherry red in color, the Lambrusco di Sorbara has bright red fruit flavors (think cherries and watermelon) and floral aromas (think orange blossom) and high acidity. They pair extremely well with spicy Thai food and pork-based dishes of their native region, Emilia-Romagna.

pairing lambruscoEat, Drink, and Be Merry

Curious about the many personalities of Lambrusco? The majority of Lambrusco is produced in the region of Emilia-Romagna, famous for Balsamic vinegar, Prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese which happen to be the perfect match for this vino frizzante. Join our Vineyard Discovery, Parmigiano & Culatello or Taste Parma adventure and eat, drink and be merry!

charming lambrusco

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