In our virtual wine tour, we linger a little longer in the north of Italy, just under the boot “cuff,” namely in Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s wealthiest and most robust areas. This region stretches out from her central capital city Bologna almost coast to coast, east from the Ligurian Sea to the Adriatic on the western shore. As you might expect, being virtually bound on two sides by water in a historically trade-dense and tumultuous area, Emilia-Romagna has a rich and lively history that influences her wine production even today.
Emilia vs. Romagna
Two regions comprise Emilia-Romagna, as discernable in the region’s name. Emilia lies westerly, her terrain deposited by rich soils remnant from the Po River’s high water marks, tamed over the years by increasingly improved technology. Germanic tribes were Emilia’s early conquering inhabitants. Pork, butter, cheeses and heavier foods predominated their cuisine. In fact, Parma ham and Parmesan cheese are two outstanding food products from Emilia-Romagna.
Romagna touches the Adriatic Sea on the east and the Apennine Mountains to the south. Largely settled by early Romans — her namesake — Romagna’s lighter Mediterranean style cuisine was heavily influenced by the use of olive oil.
Lambrusco Is the Star in Emilia
Sparkling wines are perfect accompaniments to Emilia’s fatty foods. Emilia produces its most famous sparkling red, Lambrusco, with varying degrees of fizz, acidity and sweetness.
Lambrusco was a very popular export to the U.S. in the 1970s and ’80’s. These Lambruscos weren’t considered “serious” (instead, think “joyful”). I was happy to learn that there are drier, more robust Lambruscos with the coveted DOC designation that don’t find their way out of Italy.
Albana di Romagna Rules the Roost in Romagna
Albana di Romagna was Italy’s first DOCG wine (1987), which was quite an accolade. Albana di Romagna’s distinctive almond undertones and dry finish are a perfect accompaniment to Romagna’s traditional Mediterranean diet. Other sparkling Albana versions are made as well, for example the sweeter Albana Spumante.
If you’ve gotten to try a “serious” Lambrusco or an Albana di Romagna, I would love to hear about your experiences.