I love a great Lambrusco but whenever I mention the wine to folks, I always get a strange look. If you were born pre-1970 you think I’m talking about the horrific Riunite wine that flooded the market in the 70’s and 80’s. If you were born post-1970 you have no idea what I’m talking about.
The sweet Lambrusco that flooded the American market in the 1970’s and 80’s such as Riunite, has given the wine a less than stellar reputation. The good news is, quality Lambrusco is making its way back on the shelves and I’m doing my part to share the message that this wine is legit.
While taking my WSET Level 3 course a few years ago we covered this grape variety. I had heard about it and it sounded interesting and since it was Thanksgiving time, I purchased a bottle to enjoy with dinner. Ever since then, I can’t get enough of this wine. The light bubbles and the different flavors depending on grape variety offer a ton of options. It’s great for the red wine lover who isn’t such a fan of bubbles but it also meets the bubbly lovers needs too.
There are thirteen different Lambrusco grape varieties but three more common ones. Those are: Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa, and Lambrusco Salamino (named this because the grape clusters are shaped similar to a salami.)
The wines can vary in color and flavor depending on the variety used. Lambrusco di Sorbara is my favorite; it’s a beautiful shade of pink and it has crisp flavors of strawberry and hints of herbs. I love the Cleto Chiarli del Fondatore Lambrusco we have in our shop. It’s a Sorbara and my favorite Lambrusco. Lambrusco di Grasparossa is dark and tangy and meaty in flavor. It’s great with pizza.
If you prefer dry wine, look for a Lambrusco with “Secco” on the label. This is the driest you’ll find. Semi-Secco will be semi-dry, while Amabile will be sweet. If you want it super sweet, pick up a bottle of Dolce.
The best place to buy a quality Lambrusco is at a wine shop. So get yourself a bottle, make up a charcuterie board, and get lushy!