Lambrusco : Four things to know when you buy
Lambrusco is one of the rising stars on wine-lists around the world. If you've not had it for years, take a moment to rediscover this truly Italian gem.
Here are a few things you need to know when choosing a lambrusco:
1) Lambrusco is a family of grapes, not a style of wine. There are over a dozen Lambrusco varieties that exist but only four of them are widely grown and they are only grown in this part of Italy. Nowhere else in the world. The Lambrusco Salamino, Grasparossa and Marani give dark purple wines whereas the Lambrusco di Sorbara makes raspberry-red wines that are fast becoming the coolest thing to be seen on the summer terraces.
2) Lambrusco can be made in 3 ways. The most common is the Charmat or Martinotti method where the second fermentation (to get the bubbles into the wine) is made in big autoclaves. After that there is a small amount of wine produced in the Traditional or Champenoise method where the second fermentation happens in the bottle, the wines are then "riddled" so that the yeast collects in the neck of the bottle, and then "disgorged". There is only a tiny percentage of Lambrusco which is made in this way. The third method is "Metodo Ancestrale", literally the old method, aka Pét-Nat (coming from the French pétillant naturel). This is where the wine is bottled before it has finished its first fermentation. The yeast is left in the wine so the wines are cloudy, unfiltered, fizzy, slightly sweet, rustic and lively.
3) Lambrusco can be either a DOC or an IGT wine. DOC wines have lower yields per hectare and more stringent controls on how the wines are made. Always go for a DOC wine and always go for a “Secco”. Anything else will be sweet, great for cake, but probably not want you’re looking for to pair with your pasta….
4) Lambrusco goes with lots of food but it finds it's perfect partner with the local deli meats of Emilia-Romagna - think prosciutto crudo, salame, not to mention parmiggiano reggiano cheese. The key feature of Lambrusco is the high acidity, which is comparable to Champagne and hey, what can't we drink champagne with? Exactly..