What Up, Lambrusco?

To the uninitiated, Lambrusco may sound like it was named for a family of wise guys who hang out on a Brooklyn corner, eating chicken parm sandwiches and greeting one another with fist bumps. But in the wine world, Lambrusco is a family of grapes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which is cultivated into a light and bubbly vino meant to wash down the region’s rich, refined cuisine.

This fizzy wine, available in red, white, and rosé, has a bad rep, thanks to the Riunite ad campaign of the mid-’80s, but suddenly, everybody’s talking about it—and some serious wine bloggers are giddily gearing up for a Lambrusco comeback. Dr. Vino says that Lambrusco may become his “Wine Of The Summer 2007,” and after downing a $4 bottle of Canei Lambrusco Dell’Emilia NV, the Wine Cask Blog calls it a “legitimate wine from a beautiful village in Italy.” Here at CHOW, the Medici Ermete Quercioli Reggiano Lambrusco DOC Secco made our list of easy-drinking summer wines, and Food & Wine’s senior wine editor, Ray Isle, offers a rundown of artisanal Lambruscos that will “make you forget you ever heard the word Riunite.” Wine Library Terroir goes deeper into the description of the grape:

Lambrusco’s flavor and aroma range can vary quite a bit, but most Lambruscos show a chalky minerality mixed with chocolatey, dark berry aromas, a VERY dark color, and a rich and full body that is balanced by a prominent acidity, and of course the fine bubbles and the COOL froth that gathers at the top of the glass like a violet-colored head of a good Belgian beer.

In other words, it’ll impress the winos at your next barbecue. Blogger Eat Drink One Woman, reporting on a recent Lambrusco tasting event, sees this grape’s summer party potential:

[T]hough I liked the sharpish Lini rosé okay and the buzzy blackberry Labrusca Rosso even better, it was the Labrusca Bianco from Emilia that won me over. This white lambrusco is a touch drier than the pear-scented proseccos I usually drink in the summer, with a humming fizz. It’s sunny and gentle—ideal for drinking with rolled up cuffs and white cotton.

Yo, I’ll fist-bump to that.

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