Lambrusco: Emilia Romagna's Favorite Sparkler
It's one of the oldest wine varietals in the world, dating back to the time of the Etruscans and prized by the Romans. Slightly fizzy, delectably frothy, unexpected and fun, Lambrusco wines are gaining fame outside of Italy as a wine to watch. And as one of the signature wines of Emilia Romagna, you can expect it to pair wonderfully with a variety of cured meats and cheeses.
Lambrusco wines can be red, white, or rosé, depending on how long the wines are left in the maceration stage. And although they do not have to be sparkling, the most well-known are of the fizzy variety.
How is a Lambrusco wine made? Usually from more than one of the half-dozen Lambrusco grape varieties indigenous to Emilia Romagna, and sometime blended with a small percentage of another varietal. The sparkling finish is not achieved during a secondary fermentation in the bottle, as with the champagne method, but rather in tanks, after which it is bottle under pressure (the so-called "Charmat" method, which is also used for the other Italian sparklers, Prosecco and Asti).
From the moment it is first poured, its signature bubbles form and rise up the glass before gradually receding to its sparkling and beautifully colored finish. Many think that it is a sweet wine due to its fizzy nature; however, it is a refreshing, dry and slightly fruity wine best served chilled. On my most recent tradeshow to Emilia Romagna, I sampled six different lambrusco wines and each presented a unique and memorable taste from the others. I strongly recommend drinking lambrusco with a sampling of sliced cured meats and parmesan cheese. It is the perfect pairing for a relaxing afternoon whether in Emilia Romagna or at home!
If you want to try tasting Lambrusco in its natural habitat, a cooking vacation to Emilia-Romagna might be in order! But don't worry, there are plenty of good Lambrusco wines available also in the U.S. Cheers, or as they say in Italy, cin cin!
By Cory Smith