Lambrusco, the sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna, deserves better than the reputation Aldo Cella saddled it with here in the States. It really can be a remarkable apertif: an interesting alternative to champagne or prosecco, with its deep red color, effervescence, and fruity, full-bodied character.
But let’s face it, focusing on the region of Emilia-Romagna, as our blog is doing at the moment, is much easier for the chefs than for me. The wines of Emilia-Romagna well-known in the USA comprise a remarkably short list! Is it some sort of poetic justice that the Italian region with more celebrity foods than any other (Prosciutto di Parma, Aceto Balsamico di Modena, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, all the cured meats of Bologna, and on and on) has only one DOCG zone and only one truly well-known regional wine? Whatever the reason, Emilia-Romagna is as little-known for its wines as it is well-known for its foods. Although Lambrusco pairs well with some Emilia-Romagnan dishes, our experience has been that the natives turn quickly to their neighboring regions to find wines to drink with most their meals.
So let’s appreciate Lambrusco for what it is: a fun sparkling wine that works best as a well-chilled apertif, with more and more versions popping up on restaurant wine lists all over. We found this Lambrusco
right along with the champagne at the beginning of the wine list at AOC in Los Angeles when we recently went to try out its new location, featuring a courtyard and a whole new vibe, a bit further west on Third Street than its original home. It made for the perfect cocktail—a light, refreshing prelude to a wonderful meal. Later, I asked my preferred wine merchant, Robert at Du Vin Wines in West Hollywood, if he carried any Lambrusco, expecting a negative reply. Lo and behold, he did—stocked also with the sparkling wines, not the Italian reds. I will try his recommendation out in a future post, but for now I encourage you to see if Lambrusco is appearing yet in the “champagne” section of your favorite wine restaurant, and give it a try! This effervescent Emilian deserves a second chance!