Lambrusco wine is the name of both an Italian wine and a red wine principally made from grape. The wine and the grapes originate from Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, principally throughout the provinces of Parma, Mantua, Modena, and Reggio nell’Emilia. Its grape has long history in the winemaking industry. With evidence archeologically, which indicated that the wine Etruscans have indicated the vine. In the Roman times, the Lambrusco was valued highly for its high yields and productivity with “Cato the Elder”, stating to produce 2/3 of an acre can make enough wine in filling 300 amphoras.

The high rate on this wine are frizzante, frothy red wines, which is especially made to be drunk from one of the 8 Lambrusco regions including Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Colli di Parma Lambrusco, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Colli di Scandio e Canossa Lambrusco, Lambrusco Mantovano, Modena Lambrusco, and Reggiano Lambrusco. During 1970 to 1980, the sweet Lambrusco has been the widest selling wine import in the US. Through that time, Lambrusco has been also produced in a rose and white style made as you limit the contact of skin with must.

Grape Varieties

Lambrusco is a grape variety with bright color, which is used in making sparkling red wines in the Lambrusco Emilia Romagma in the northern Italy. Lambrusco vines grew in a number of Italian wine regions, which include Emilia-Romagma’s neighbor, Piedmont, and some in Basilicata. Lambrusco and the eponymous wine there, has a high profile in the 21st century widely the result of enormous production for primary markets in 1980, specifically the northern Europe and US. The days when these wines have been largely fermented in bottle of the “methode traditionelle” were gone, as much as that of the care and quality accompanying this production technique, which is more demanding.

These days, most wines that bear the name “Lambrusco” were made in bulk, going through their secondary fermentation in wide tanks made of steel. This called the “Charmat” or tank method, which is pioneered in the northern Italy, and it is used in the prosecco production. Lambrusco’s popularity have grown rapidly in year 1980, as this was the only way to be able to produce the necessary volumes easily and quickly enough to meet and satisfy the demands, as well as inexpensive enough to be able to keep the wine affordable.

Lambrusco grapes’ pigment works well to make an alluring ruby color in red wines, and as you are allowed to attain the full phenolic ripeness of Lambrusco grapes, this creates a wine that has intense perfume, just like how intense the color is. The bright red-purple hue of Lambrusco red wine was only surpassed by the Ancellotta’s. This is another grape variety sanctioned to be used under the laws of Lambrusco DOC. Ancellotta grapes are used in bringing the color to the sort of over-cropped and watery produced Lambrusco, as the yields are enabled to climb out of control.

Numerous sub-varieties of Lambrusco have their own DOC. Wines made under these sub-varieties should be made from a minimum of 85% Lambrusco grapes. The remaining 15% is usually made up with Ancellotta. The most usually found Lambrusco are as follow:

  • Lambrusco Maestri

  • Lambrusco Grasparossa

  • Lambrusco Salamino

  • Lambrusco Montericco

  • Lambrusco Sorbara

  • Lambrusco Marani

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All these variety of Lambrusco grapes are indigenous to Emilia, and they are not clones; they are not sub-clones as well. Most of Lambrusco are created with blended variety of Lambrusco, and they are usually blended with several of particular blending grapes. The grape vines are usually high-trained above the ground, in order to avoid mildew from developing. In history, the vines have been trained in climbing the poplar trees. The Lambrusco grape is not specifically sweet; however, several of the commercial versions of Lambrusco are sweetened either with additional concentrated rectified grape must or by partial fermentation. If not sweet fermented, the Lambrusco grapes have the ability to produce an outstanding dry wine, having a slight bitter finish and strawberry notes.

In the late 20th century, some ampelographers are able to identify about 60 Lambrusco varieties scattered across Italy, which include Veneto, Piedmont, and Sicily. The most largely planted is the Lambrusco Salamino.

Lambrusco Regions

These days, there are different levels of sweetness and dryness, which include the dry, bone dry, off dry, sweet, and very sweet. This wine is noted for its berry flavors and high acidity. Most of the wines that are exported now to the US include a blend of Lambrusco from various DOCs, and they are being sold under IGT designation, Emilia. This wine is made rarely in a “metodo classic” or champagne style. It is commonly made with the use of Charmat process in which a second fermentation is being conducted in the pressurized wine tank. Knowing the many different regions of Lambrusco will help you understand why this is one of the best wines that you should taste.

  • Lambrusco di Sorbara – This region is located in the northern Modena near Sorbara village. Generally, Sorbara is regarded as the highest quality among the Lambrusco varieties, which produces the most fragrant wines. It has several resemblances to the Lambrusco Salamino, but it is producing a more full-bodied and darker wine. The color may range from a purplish to a deep ruby hue. In this region of Lambrusco wine, only Salamino and Sorbara are allowed in the designated wine of DOC with at least 60 percent requirement to be Sorbara. Salamino and Sorbara varieties have a tendency of producing the most acidic wines. One of the reasons why Sorbara has a chance of producing Lambrusco with highest quality is the chance of the vine to drop the flowers, which will reduce the concentrated flavors and fruit yields.

  • Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce – This region is located 11 kilometers or approximately 7 miles in the western Sorbara village. The wines in this region need to be composed of a minimum of 90 percent of the local Salamino. The wines commonly have light color and body, having a frizzante style made in both dry and semi-sweet styles. This variety gets its name from the similarity of the grape clusters to a salami sausage.

  • Lambrusco Reggiano – This is the widest producing region of Lambrusco and it is the source of most exported designated wines in DOC. The four Lambrusco grapes, which could be used are Marani, Salamino, Maestri, and Montericco. Ancellotta grapes are also allowed in the DOC for up to 15 percent. The sweet wine versions are commonly in the frizzante light bodied style, whereas the driver wines have darker color and more full bodied. This variety is based on Salamino variety and it is the first Lambrusco “Cru” from one vineyard. In 1980, it has been a real benchmark for the area between Reggio Emilia and Modena. It has made for a glass of deep ruby with a soft foam revealing floral notes of wild roses and violets accompanied by the wild berries’ sweetness.

  • Lambrusco Mantovano – This is the only region of Lambrusco outside the Emilia Romagna, in the region of Lombardy. This style is commonly dry; nonetheless, some of the semi-styles were also made.

  • Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetto – This region is the smallest wine producing region, which is located in southern town Modena. It is home to Grasparossa, wherein the DOC only allows 85 percent of wine to compose. This wine is commonly full bodied and dry, having a deep red-purplish color. Grasparossa is producing the most tannic Lambrusco rosso.

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Other regions

There are a number of cheaper boxed and bottled wines in Australia, which are being produced by the Australian vineyards and are sold as Lambrusco. They are commonly medium sweet, about an ABV of 10 percent as a light drinking product. On the other hand, in Argentina, the Lambrusco Maestri has accounted for hundred hectares planted.

Why drink LambruscoWhy drink Lambrusco

One of the so many reasons why should try drinking Lambrusco is because of its sparkle enlivened and delightfully refreshing bouquet that may vary from floral with the hints of heather and violets, to fruity with the vinous pleasant overtones. On the palate, Lambrusco is zesty, with a clean finish and great fruit flavors. Because it is acidic relatively, it goes well especially with foods containing mayonnaise or oily foods, such as potato salad, grilled sausage, and many more. One significant thing that you should remember is that Lambrusco can be sweet or dry. The characteristics of each wine are going to remain consistent from year to year.

A grilled chicken that has a dry sparkling wine leaving the palates clean will be somewhat different from the same chicken that has sweeter wine, which may go better with a peach. Luckily, the label comes to your assistance, like for example, Amabile means sweet, and Secco means dry. Thus, you should read the label carefully and if you still doubt, you should taste one bottle before you buy some more for your picnic or other special occasion and holidays.

Furthermore, Lambrusco is not just the collective name of many indigenous varieties of red grapes, like the Marani, Salamino, Montericco, Maestri, Sorbara, Ruberti, and Grasparossa – to mention the 7 most usual Lambrusco Emilia varieties grown in Emilia Romagna, and Lombardy. It is also a fizzy wine, called the Vino Frizzante, a kind of wine with less bottle pressure as compared to a completely sparkling wine like the Spumante or Champagne.

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Robust and full bodied, Lambrusco has a very immediate expressiveness. Although this wine was always made in autoclave, in which the fizziness was attained as it re-ferment the wine with sugar and yeast in big container so as to preserve the aromas, many producers are re-fermenting the Lambrusco in bottles with the use of “method champenoise”, having some interesting results. The particular thing in Lambrusco is that its name was derived from the Latin words “ruscum” and “labrum”, which means, “cultivated vine from which before there was nothing”. This is thanks to the inhabitants of Emilia Romagna, who are very dedicated in cultivating these grapes through many centuries, becoming very skilled to crate lively and cheerful wines, which have contagious joy. Lambrusco is perfect to be paired with cold cuts such as pancetta, salami, and mortadella, accompanied by some fried dumplings as per the tradition of Emilia Romagna.

The world of real Lambrusco

Even though it is typically refers to Mantova and Emilia as the Lambrusco regions, Lambrusco is not the name of a wine region or zone. The brand quality of Lambrusco depends on the reputation of a specific label and its producer. It is not only on the grape variety that is used, which is why Lambrusco becomes one of the best wine to drink. Champagne is good, but if you want to get in spirit of Valentine’s Day and prevent being a cliché, a sparkling Lambrusco red wine is the way to go. Served chilled, it is versatile enough to go with desert, food, or just on its own, and it has a tendency of being incredibly affordable as well. Even with smaller production, more great versions of this wine, from its home in the region of Emilia Romagna in the northern Italy, are making their way into the glasses of American wine lovers, with pleasing results.

The greatest thing about Lambrusco is its incredible variety. There are many choices to choose and blend for different satisfying tastes from dry to sweet. The level of sweetness includes the dolce, amabile, and secco. They can best served when well chilled, but you may try it slightly warmer first, to see what you think about the incredible tastes, as the more complex bottles show better when they are near room temperature. Many adult drinkers might have still running screaming from the style, but this high quality Lambrusco rosso, from the central east region of Emilia Romagna, are being enjoyed by the new generation and it is poured in many top-end restaurants. Lambrusco is a rewarding and harmonious wine, and its balanced tannins and fruitiness are making it an ideal accompaniment to many rich dishes.

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