Lambrusco: Back on the menu plus top wines worth trying


Simon Woolf finds the perfect antidote for Emilia Romagna’s hearty food, in the form of Lambrusco...

How long are you staying in Emilia Romagna,’ asks Mattia Montanari, director and winemaker at boutique Lambrusco producer Operao2. ‘One week,’ I reply. He feigns a quick mental calculation, and jokes: ‘Okay, so you’ll gain about three kilos by the time you go home.’ He then presides over a lavish lunch and I realise that maybe it wasn’t a joke.

This corner of Italy is famed for its substantial cuisine, home to everything from Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parma ham to ravioli, lasagne and myriad pastas. Emilia also harbours the perfect foil for all that indulgent fare on the table: the delightfully frothy red frizzante, Lambrusco.It remains hugely popular within the region and across Italy, but Lambrusco’s international reputation is less than sparkling. It all went flat after the glory days of the 1980s, before Prosecco took over the world. Lambrusco’s major producers courted American consumers and their famously sweet tooths with a sugary amabile concoction that had little to do with the original style. The giant Giacobazzi pioneered the idea of canned Lambrusco, earning it the nickname of Coca-cola wine. Director of the two Lambrusco consorzios Ermi Bagni recalls: ‘In the 1970s and ’80s we had one full cargo ship a week going to the east coast of the US.’

Translated by ICY

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