For those of us old enough to remember, the mere mention of Lambrusco might conjure up memories of an annoying jingle proclaiming how Riunite on ice is so nice. This sweet, slightly effervescent wine has been cast aside, sitting in the shadows with its equally taboo cousin, white zinfandel. But has Lambrusco been harshly misjudged? Does this fruity red wine have a place at the grown ups table?
I recently attended a Lambrusco seminar at Vinology led by Italian wine expert and author of Do Bianchi, Jeremy Parzen. To fully appreciate Lambrusco it is imperative to understand its origin. Lambrusco is both an Italian red grape and the name of the wine made from that grape. The grapes and wine come from the gastronomic mecca that is Emilia-Romagna. Lambrusco comes in various levels of dryness and is typically low in ABV and residual sugar.
Lambrusco was wildly popular in the US during the 70's and 80's. Italian wine makers took advantage of Americans love of sugary drinks. According to Parzen, Lambrusco was like the Coca-cola of wine. "Think of it more like drinking a wine cooler." There's no need to swirl it in your glass or savor the bouquet. It's a nice fizzy beverage to accompany your meal.
As the American palate adjusted to more "serious" wines, Lambrusco lost its appeal. However, not in Emilia-Romagna where Lambrusco is still the wine of choice. When you live in a Provence famous for the best cheeses, meats, pasta and balsamic vinegar then you wouldn't want to overpower these delicacies with a Barolo, Brunello, or Chianti. Just as Texans love their sweet tea, Lambusco is the iced tea of Emilia-Romagna.
The pale pink wine formerly known as white zinfandel is now the ultra hip rose, so maybe there's hope for Lambrusco. I recently picked up a bottle of Riunite for $4.99 to have with dinner. The fizzy, chilled wine was very refreshing in this Texas heat. It didn't add nor distract from my meal. I didn't have my Riunite on ice, but it was indeed "very nice".
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.