Lambrusco: they say it’s making a comeback but to us, it never went out of style...

Lambrusco: they say it’s making a comeback but to us, it never went out of style...

Published by Jayne Droese on Sep 29th 2017

The critics and wine writers like to talk of the recent Lambrusco revival, claiming that mass production and some overly sweet versions had tarnished the wine’s authentic image since the 1970s up until recently. We at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant never lost our faith in Lambrusco and have cherished and touted its merits and place at the table since day one. We are however, equally excited to see a steady rise in smaller production, more balanced, crisper and drier styles being imported into the US. Made in the Northeastern Italian food mecca of Emilia-Romagna, famous for such delicacies as Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Lambrusco is both the name of the family of ancient grapes used in production (of which there are 6 significant) as well as the designated growing areas in which it is made. Lambrusco comes in many styles, from the most common red to many shades of rosé. The best versions are dry (secco) and off-dry (amabile) made in a semi-sparkling ‘frizzante’ or fully sparkling ‘spumante’ style in one of 8 DOC regions including Lambrusco di Sorbara, from where this current month’s Sparkling Wine Club selection, Paltinieri ‘Radice’ hails. Many of the wines now exported to the United States include a blend of Lambruscos from the different DOCs and are sold under the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) designation, Emilia. Rarely made in the traditional method of Champagne, Lambrusco is most often produced in the Charmat or Ancestrale methods whereby the wine either undergoes fermentation in pressurized tanks (like prosecco), or fermentation is finished in bottle without any additives, imparting a gentle carbonation by trapping carbon dioxide. Meant to be consumed young, Lambrusco offers a spectrum of flavors and aromatics (depending on the style and varietal used) from tart red strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry to darker plum, cherry and beetroot and often has a seductive floral note to boot. Its vivacious acidity and subtle, savory bitterness make it ideal for pairing with foods of its region and is my go-to for a charcuterie plate, grilled sausages, smoked cheeses and pizza with such toppings as ‘prosciutto and broccoli rabe’ or ‘fennel sausage and mushroom’! Beyond Italian cuisine, Lambrusco shines when paired with classic American or Korean barbecue, and the saucier the better! Cheers to eating and drinking well, always! -Jayne

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