Thursday, June 27, 2013

From Cheap & Cheerful to High End, Lambrusco Satisfies

Ruinite on ice. That's nice.
For a certain generation of Americans, the sweet fizz of Riunite was their first and often only exposure to Lambrusco, the sparkling red wine of Emilia Romagna.
Today the wine flies way under the radar of most consumers, and that's too bad because it's truly perfect on summer's hottest days.  That's because -- unlike most red wines -- this one is alway served cold.
For those who prefer all things red, Lambrusco is like a triple berry pie compared to the apple sorbet of Prosecco. Those ripe fruit flavors in the wine are the same that you'd bring home from the farmers market this time of year: black cherries, blueberries, and - in the case of rosata Lambrusco - raspberries. 
At the Mondo Lambrusco tasting in New York this week, it was clear that the fizzy delight had a bit of a double identity. While one speaker reminisced about when Lambrusco in a can was available, others touted the wine as serious. One speaker happily called it cheap, while another admonished him for using the word.  "Why?" he countered, "we think cheap is good." There were producers pouring single vineyard Lambruscos, along with the old American favorite - Riunite, but now the winery was showing a more sophisticated side with a range of quality wines.
Many of the wines had very little residual sugar and alcohol of around 10-11 percent. This is one of the surprises about this wine - how delicious the dry styles are.
So sweet or dry? Single vineyard or in a can? To my mind, a wide variety of Lambrusco is a good thing. At its essence it is an unpretentious wine that's perfect for sultry summer days.

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