If you’re a wine lover seeking something delicious to sip during summer’s remaining gloriously sunny days and want to try something other than a crisp white or refreshing rosé, now’s the time to turn your attention to Lambrusco.
A fizzy red wine from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region named after a family of brightly coloured grapes, it’s been gaining traction for some time now and just keeps getting more popular.
Before you dismiss the stuff as being too sweet, hear us out: the level of sweetness and dryness of the purple bubbly can vary tremendously.
Emilia-Romagna is known as the Valley of Food, and, in keeping with the saying “what grows together goes together”, classic pairings include Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma. (Make it a charcuterie board with other cured meats, crusty bread, and grilled peppers drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Modena.) The fruit-forward, lightly sparkling frizzante is extremely food-friendly, so you could also serve it with pizza, pasta, pho, sushi, or berry pie.
Here are three to consider. Serve each chilled in a white-wine glass or tumbler and drink to summer days.
Cleto Chiarli Vecchia Modena Premium Lambrusco di Sorbara
($32.99, Liberty Wine Merchants)
The Chiarli family name is at the very heart of Lambrusco’s history. In the mid-1800s, its namesake, Cleto Chiarli, ran a Modena restaurant where he sold his own wine made of Lambrusco grapes. He went on to found Emilia-Romagna’s first wine-producing company and what was once the largest private Lambrusco producer.
The family is also credited for making the shift to the Charmat (tank) method for Lambrusco, resulting in the clear (rather than foggy) sparkling it is today. At 11 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), this wine has notes of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and vanilla. Pair it with takeout from Juke’s Fried Chicken.
Solco Paltrinieri Lambrusco Dell‘Emilia Frizzante
(Marquis Wine Cellars, $34.89)
The family-run Paltrinieri winery is situated in the heart of Sorbara in the province of Modena, the wine taking its name from the Italian word for furrow.
This medium-dry Salamino Lambrusco bears a deep purple hue, has an ABV of 11.5 percent, and is fresh and delicate on the palate. Winemaker Alberto Paltrinieri recommends it as an aperitif or paired with salami, tagliatelle with ragu, or a sour-cherry tart.
Medici Ermete ‘Phermento’ Metodo Ancestrale Lambrusco di Modena
(B.C. Liquor Store at 5555 Cambie Street, $29.99)
Dry, lively, and frothy with a raspberry aroma, this pink grapefruit–coloured sparkler is made from Sorbara grapes and comes in at 12.5 percent ABV. Run by the fourth-generation Medici family, the Medici Ermete winery prides itself on the multiple awards it has won for its Lambrusco wines.
While you’re on Cambie Street, pop into the excellent new Potluck Hawker Eatery and pick up some seafood nasi goreng, sambal eggplant, and Hawker fried chicken wings (with fish-sauce caramel) for a perfect pairing.