Tis’ the season for pink bubbles. With so many options regarding style, format and price point, there is plenty of reason to branch out and dive into Lambrusco.
The word Lambrusco may conjure thoughts of sweet, cloying, syrupy wine that is dense and one-dimensional. On the contrary, Lambrusco can be made into rather elegant wine that both treads lightly and delivers depth. While these wines do possess a fizz, their bubbles are not quite as alive and animated as those found in Champagne, Cava or even most Proseccos. Specifically, Lambrusco is the type of grape, which encompasses over 60 different sub-varieties, and most of these wines are produced in the same method as Prosecco – Charmat Method – which enlists large steel tanks for its secondary fermentation (comparatively, Champagne, Cava, Cremant and other Traditional Method sparkling wines undergo secondary fermentation in the bottle).
Most of the Lambrusco on the market is made in the picturesque, north-eastern region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy, where the famous Parmigiano-Reggio cheese hails from (fun fact, only cheese made in Parma can be classified as such), and uncoincidentally the fizzy Lambrusco wine and this sharp, nutty cheese are ideal pairing options. Not only does Emilia-Romagna pride itself as home of Parmesan, but this is also where Balsamic vinegar (and only here) is produced (and it even uses Lambrusco grapes!), as well as prosciutto di Parma. As with parmesan, both the salty essence of prosciutto and richness of balsamic vinegar can make for fantastic ingredients to pair with Lambrusco. We recommend a ciabatta sandwich with tomatoes, basil, parmesan and balsamic to go with your next bottle of Lambrusco.
Italians will drink their Lambrusco with just about anything, as its approachability and soft nature allow it to be versatile enough for aperitifs, sharp cheeses, rare red meats, and even dark chocolate. As with all types of wine, moreover, Italians may consume Lambrusco at any hour of the day, and with any meal. Other types of fare and dishes we recommend to pair with Lambrusco are: bacon and eggs, herbed chicken salad, pasta with prosciutto and cream sauce, and roast beef sandwiches with a horseradish dill sauce.
There are plenty of Lambruscos out on the market, and not all may suit your interest or expectation for a crisp, refreshing and balanced wine, so when shopping for Lambrusco look on the label for key words such as Reggiano, Modena, and Emilia, as these will indicate the specific DOC or IGT in which they are produced (both DOC and IGT are indicators of classified zones for making Italian wine), and thus ensure a slightly more refined and sophisticated wine.
A few of our favorite Lambruscos are (in order of dry to sweet):
“Premium” Lambrusco di Sorbara, by Cleto Chiarli
Rosso Alla’Antica, by Alfredo Bertolani
Frico by Scarpetta