And it’s apt to become your new go-to.

By Maddy Sweitzer-Lammé
Updated August 04, 2020
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As a fairly casual wine drinker who likes to spend less than $20 a bottle, I always keep an eye out for lesser-known, affordable styles and grapes that I can go back to time and time again. Of my familiar favorites, Lambrusco has become a grape and style that I always go back to.

Part of my attraction is because it’s a wine that breaks so many rules. My favorite Lambrusco, the Lini 910 Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso, is a dark red sparkling wine—not a combination of descriptors that usually go together in the wine world. You serve it cold, like you would any other sparkling wine, but it has a more full body and flavor than many of the white and rosé sparkling wines that I tend to find.

I also love it because it’s a style of wine that was created to go with food, which is how I prefer to enjoy wine. I first tried Lambrusco when I was working at an upscale pizza restaurant with an all-Italian wine list. In one tasting, our wine buyer described Lambrusco as a wine basically invented for eating with pizza, since it pairs so well with big meals that include cheese and charcuterie meats. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Most Lambrusco is made in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, where winemakers have grown these grapes for literally hundreds of years. Emilia-Romagna is a region of Italy known for rich foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto, and mortadella. This is a big part of why the Lambrusco-style of wine emerged—locals needed something that could stand up to these rich meals, and so Lambrusco was born.

My favorite Lambruscos are often labelled grasparossa, which are those dark, more substantial reds that I love to pair with anything from red meat (often considered off-limits for sparkling white or rosés) to a rich cheese. I also find these bottles to be great with spicy food, like Thai, since they have more sweetness to them than, say, a bottle of Pinot Noir.

If you’re looking for Lambrusco in a wine shop, just tell the attendant you’d like to try a Lambrusco, and let them know you’re looking for something quite dry. Because the sweet stuff was very popular in the U.S. during the 80s and 90s, some wine sellers may still carry the assumption that Lambrusco equals sweet. Guess what? You just taught that wine seller something!