Wines of Emilia-Romagna: Lambrusco
What happens when you take the depth and complexity of a red and marry it with the bright effervescence of a sparkling wine? The perfect Lambrusco. An instant crowd-pleaser and the perfect complement to an array of foods, Lambrusco is the fun friend you want to take to any party. So throw out your misconceptions about this ruby darling and get lost in the depths of its rosy froth.
Historical documents trace the origins of the wine back to Modena where the Romans described the wine as Vitis Labrusca. The word Lambrusca in Latin means “wild”, an accurate descriptor for the bitter tasting grapes found growing wild in the fields of the outlying province. Historical records dating back to the 14th century indicate that Lambrusco was growing in popularity at the time, particularly with the nobility, who began stocking large quantities of the wine in their cantinas. Powerful families like the Estense were known to have bottles of “lambrusca” always on hand for entertaining. Italian poets including the likes of Giosuè Carducci became enamored with the wine and often made their way to Modena to drink it in the cantinas and local trattorias of the city. While the drinking of Lambrusco has been enjoyed for centuries, modern day bottling and corking processes did not begin until the 1700’s. The storied history of this much beloved wine finally reached a culmination of appreciation when in 1970 producers of the bubbly were granted the distinction of a DOC designation. A DOC designation signifies a wine that is produced in a specifically defined region of Italy and in accordance with the traditional winemaking process of that region.
Lambrusco is a luscious, sparkling red wine that is characterized by a pink to ruby red color. It is ideally served at around 55°F, the temperature at which the distinct bouquet and aroma of the wine best manifests. There are four major types of Lambrusco encompassing distinct organic characteristics: Sorbara, Salamino di Santa Croce, Grasparossa di Castelvetro and Modena.
Lambrusco di Sorbara, arguably made with the highest quality grapes and in very limited production, exudes a light ruby color and pink foam. Displaying a very delicate taste and a fruity aroma, it is best consumed young.
SALAMINO DI SANTA CROCE
Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce derives from a small, cylindrical bunch with grapes exhibiting a deep blue and black skin. The hearty nature of this type of grape enables the production of the wine to abundantly span most of the year. The wine is ruby red in color with a slightly violet foam, and exudes a fresh and fruity aroma. It is an easy drinking wine perfect for pairing with poultry, pork, white fish and pasta.
GRASPAROSSA DI CASTELVETRO
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro exhibits an intense ruby red color with a violet reflection. With its intense fruity aroma, Grasparossa di Castelvetro is also considered to be the fullest bodied. The wine pairs best with hearty pastas, red meat and cured or smoked meats. A lighter version of the wine is also available, which makes for an excellent aperitif or a nice complement to dessert.
The origin of Lambrusco di Modena dates back to the 1800s when the variation first became associated with the actual city of Modena. The wine is created through the blending together of various Lambruscos from the province of Modena. It is the most commercially produced type of Lambrusco and is regularly represented in the global marketplace.
If you’re in the mood for something bolder than your average sparkling rosé or you’re looking for a unique alternative to pair with rich foods, let Lambrusco liven up your next evening.