You know how certain wines have a bad reputation? Like boxed wines. Or wines from a can. Or Merlot after the movie Sideways. Well, Lambrusco is one of those wines. When I googled Lambrusco, I found many amusing descriptions. Independent.co.uk says it used to be thought of as “a cross between Cherryade and a sherbert dip, and was usually the bottle that mean people took to parties because it was under a fiver.” Wine Folly says, “You mean that cheap, sweet red wine that tastes like soda?” Margaret Rand wrote the best piece in Decanter, where she said, “My mother once sent me a birthday card that read, ‘Before you find your prince, you have to kiss an awful lot of frogs’. Well, Decanter readers, I’ve just been kissing frogs on your behalf. An awful lot of frogs. Happily I did find my prince. And more than just one… The princes in this story are real, authentic, genuine Lambruscos. The frogs are the other kind: industrially produced on a scale you’d hardly believe.”
The good news about Lambrusco is it’s undergone a wonderful renaissance that we will explore in this article. According to Decanter, “Despite incredibly high yields and a history of industrial-scale production which has done Lambrusco’s reputation no favors, there are now a number of producers intent on changing this – much like the transformation of Chianti in the mid-1990s.”
The History of Lambrusco
Lambrusco originated in the Italian wine region of Emilia-Romagna to the south of Veneto, or Venice. Its history dates back to the Roman Empire, who adored this wine. The grape was easy to grow, high yielding and very popular. Imagine Caesar sipping his goblet of Lambrusco, nibbling a little cheese and looking out over his fortunes.
According to Wine Folly, “Lambrusco is actually a family of very old grape varieties native to Italy. Most wines are a blend of several distinct varieties, each with a unique taste profile. It is unclear exactly when these varieties manifested, but Cato may have mentioned them in De Agri Cultura in 160 BC – humanity’s oldest printed farming manual.” So this wine is several millennia older than Cabernet.
ForgetBurgundy.com says that “Lambrusco has had a bad reputation in the states since commercial producers introduced it as an insipid and sickly sweet sparkling red wine in the 1970’s during the age of White Zinfandel. However, realLambrusco has about as much in common with that horrid iteration as White Zinfandel does to proper Zinfandel.”
ForgetBurgundy.com goes on to say that “Real Lambrusco is bone-dry with flavors of fresh fruits, earth, minerals, and roses. It’s super low in alcohol (usually about 11% ABV) and is imbibed across the Emilia-Romagna region in a manner similar to the way we Americans drink soda. It’s a refreshing afternoon quaff, something to sip with lunch, and it pairs impeccably with the region’s rich cheeses and salumi.”
ForgetBurgundy.com also talks about the fact that the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is “the country’s culinary heart and soul.” YUM! Lambrusco is the the ideal accompaniment for this region’s food. Buy a bottle to go with your next Italian meal and enjoy it slightly chilled for the perfect Italian experience.
More Details About the Wine – Thanks to Wine Folly
According to Wine Folly, there are about 10 different varieties of Lambrusco. The four highest quality varieties are Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Grasparossa, and Lambrusco Salamino.
WineShop At Home’s Dusk Lambrusco
The reason I wanted to study Lambrusco is that WineShop At Home recently produced its first ever version of this wine, under our Dusk brand. The grapes come from the southeastern Italian wine region of Puglia. Here are some of the tasting notes: This wine packs a good amount of fruit and tannins. The nose opens with prune, raspberry and ripe cherry aromas. Later, black currant and dark chocolate aromas blossom near the finish. This dry wine has an easygoing, fresh attack with great acidity and a medium intensity in the mid-palate. This young wine may seem a bit rustic at first, but after a few minutes in the glass, it will showcase all of its dark fruit and elegance in the finish. This Italian wine could be enjoyed with pasta dishes such as ravioli or lasagna, grilled tuna fish and chicken or roasted pork loin. Try it with the featured recipe: Grilled Fish with Garlic Marinade.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with Lambrusco.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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