Lambrusco has long been the subject of disdain for North America’s emerging wine palates. A bit too syrupy and a bit too sweet for most people, it seemed destined to be relegated to the same approval levels as Baby Duck.
But anyone who has visited the Emiglia-Romagna region of Italy, where such culinary meccas as Modena and Bologna are situated, will usually have a much different view. In the multitude of fine restaurants there, lambrusco is served with pride, often with an explanation of how intimately local it is. And it invariably goes sensationally well with a wide range of foods—most particularly, though, charcuterie, and the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Lambrusco is the name of the wine (a sparkling red), but also of the series of different grapes that can be used to produce it. The more stylish, elegant ones tend to be made from salamino grapes, and that is the case with the richly pleasing Medici Ermete Reggiano Lambrusco Concerto ($20). It is dark-hued, looking more like a syrah than a lambrusco, but its tell-tale pink bubbles inform one and all that it is, indeed, frizzante. It has a bit of cherry on the nose, and a range of herbal notes backed up by a fruity finish set against a firmly acidic backbone. It is hard to think of a food that would not pair with this wine, but certainly anything with a bit of fat and a bit of salt would be ideal, as the Modenese know full well. You are pretty much guaranteed to impress your guests, from the first bubble rising to the last drop drained.
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