Lambrusco is the name of both a red wine grape and an Italian wine, usually a frizzante (slightly sparkling) red wine that is made in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy. It goes back to the days of the Etruscans who cultivated the vine in the times of the Romans. Lambrusco was rather popular with Cato the Elder who found that the produce of two thirds of an acre could make enough wine to fill 300 amphoras.
Translated the name Lambrusco is from the latin labrusca or lambrusca, meaning wild vines because they grow spontaneously and plentifully under the rich Italian sun.
We came to love Lambrusco at Italian wine bars and restaurants in New York City. It is a wonderful summer drink, though very good all year round.
Our friends Lori Ann and Jim started hosting "Wine Wednesday" parties a few months ago, they present a particular wine varietal or region and guests bring lots food to pair, pot-luck style. It is a lot of fun.
We tasted four very good Lambrusco's ranging in price from $12 to $22.
The food was abundant, Lambrusco pairs well with many Italian cheeses and meats, a perfect wine for your L'antipasto (before the meal). It was perfect with the bacon wrapped pineapple bits there in the center of the table. I think it would be perfect with bar-b-qued chicken on a hot summer day as Lambrusco is usually served chilled. I would also pair it with a mushroom or truffle risotto.
You will certainly see me with a bottle of Lambrusco at Ruthie's backyard patio this summer at one of their live blues shows with their great pizza and BBQ.
You may be surprised to know that in the 1970s Lambrusco was the biggest selling imported wine in the United States. That was the era of "pop wines" says Lettie Teauge, but the fad faded, luckily Lambrusco is having a real resurgence in popularity thanks to great wines like that we tasted, they sure do like long names over there.
Medici Ermete Lambrusco Reggiano Secco I Querciaroli (2010)
"Dry, fruity, fresh, lively with violet scents and pleasantly harmonious. For more than one hundred years the name of the Medici family has been synonymous with excellent Lambrusco and quality wine." De-Vino.com Would be great with that Rissoto. $12.00
Vittorio Graziano Lambrusco di Castelvetro Fontana del Boschi (NV)
"Dry complex with very pleasant flavors of red berries and black olives.Not your usual Lambrusco more similar to a red wine with fine bubbles. Please do not refrigerate consume at around 50 Fahrenheit." De-Vino.com $24.00. This was Jim's and my favorite of the nice. 2nd favorite of the party.
Luciano Saetti Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce (2010)
"Deep red/purple in color. Frizzante. Intense aromas of red berries, clay and minerals. Bright and crackling on the palate with a crisp, dry finish."
"Luciano Saetti lives in Modena and makes an incredible DOC Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce from a very local strain of Lambrusco. He works completely organically in the vineyards, with nothing added in the cellar including sulfur. We are thrilled to be working with Luciano, a humble dedicated winemaker." De-Vino.Com $19.00 a very lovely wine.
Donelli Lambrusco Regianno
"Sweet, ripe black cherry and black raspberry fruit is balanced by juicy acidity, mixing with hints of tomato paste, red licorice and dried herbs. Well-balanced, with a fresh, lingering finish." Wine Maker
This was the favorite of the night. $17.00 - $11.97 on sale at Liquor Outlet Wine Cellars in Boonton