Happy World Lambrusco Day!
Now, if you’re not familiar with Lambrusco, let me expand your palate and your mind…
You see, Lambrusco used to be a top-rated wine until the 1970’s when it fell into mass production and besmirched Lambrusco’s precious reputation.
Since then, it’s been known as a sugary sweet cheap ass bottle o’ wine soda.
Think Riunite Lambrusco. Remember those giant jugs of red wine sitting heavily on the bottom shelf of most major grocery stores, which everyone assumed represented traditionally made Lambrusco?
It does not.
Lambrusco is one of the oldest Italian wines dating back to the 1st Century, thanks to the ancient Etruscans.
Usually made into frizzante (slight fizz) red and rosé wine styles. It can range from bone dry to cherry lollipop sweet.
But Lambrusco is not one of those wines you’ll want to cellar or stick in the back of your closet for when Skye graduates from college. It’s best to drink this sparkling wine while it’s young.
Lambrusco is made from the Vitis labrusca species used for centuries in Emilia-Romagna, rather than the Vitis vinifera used for international varieties such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Lambrusco is twice-fermented, which is why it’s slightly bubbly and makes for a beautiful glass of garnet frizzante wine.
The production of Lambrusco wine is also highly controlled. It can only be produced in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy.
The highest quality Lambrusco comes from the five DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) sub-regions: Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco di Modena, and Lambrusco Reggiano.
If it doesn’t come from a Lambrusco producer located within one of those regions, it ain’t Lambrusco.
How Does Lambrusco Taste?
I’m so glad you asked.
It’s a fruit and flower bomb in a good way.
Most Lambrusco wines have heady aromas of strawberry, black cherry, raspberry, rhubarb, cassis, orange rind, and violets. Followed by minerals, creamy, yeasty notes, and baking spices like clove and cinnamon.
You always want to serve your fresh and young bottle of Lambrusco chilled. Which makes it an excellent summer wine!
Look for Lambrusco wine that has over 10% ABV for a high-quality, dry version.
And because of its friendly and fruitier flavor profile, it’s a crowd-pleaser for sure.
Pop a cork and serve Lambrusco at your next dinner party or burger night for two, and you’ll have a happy crowd. After all, there are several official Lambrusco Days!
Lambrusco Wine Food Pairings
I love drinking Lambrusco with clothbound aged English cheddar cheese drizzled with 15-year-old aged balsamic vinegar from Modena as a treat.
Don’t overcomplicate what foods to pair with Lambrusco. Keep it easy.
Think “traditional Italian cuisine,” which happens to be a lot of the foods from Emilia-Romagna.
Emilia-Romagna is the home of Modena balsamic vinegar, Prosciutto di Parma, and of course Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Did you know… Germanic invaders initially settled Emilia-Romagna?
So, we owe them thanks for all the beautiful pork products like Prosciutto di Parma, Salumi (cured pork meat), and Mortadella di Bologna they inspired while pillaging.
Rice and chestnuts play a massive part in the food grown here for centuries.
But pasta still reigns as king…
No where in Italy is stuffed pasta like tortellini and ravioli more prevalent than in Emilia-Romagna.
My Top 10 Food Pairings with Lambrusco
- Grilled sharp Cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on sourdough bread
- Spinach and artichoke stuffed portobello mushrooms
- Lasagne al forno with Bolognese sauce
- Stuffed tortellini in chicken broth
- Beet, orange, and arugula salad
- Brie en croute with fig preserves
- Supreme pizza
- Whipped feta dip with grilled pita
- Chorizo, red beans, and rice
- An Emilia-Romagna inspired charcuterie board: Parmigiana-Reggiano, Grana Padano, Provolone Valpadana, Modena Balsamic vinegar, Mortadella, Salumi, & Prosciutto Di Parma, olives, fresh strawberries, and of course hearty Italian bread
Just keep Lambrusco away from overly spicy food and desserts. It won’t play nicely with those types of dishes.
Vecchia Modena Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco: A Surprising Red Frizzante Wine
Let’s get the word association out of the way. If you look at this bottle of Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco, you’ll see the words “Vecchia Modena.”
That means “Old Modena,” know what else Modena is famous for?
That’s right fantastic aged balsamic vinegar—you’re welcome.
Now, forget what you think you know about Lambrusco if you’re still harboring any lingering suspicions or doubts.
Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco is Lambrusco di Sorbara, which is one of the most delicate styles. This grape produces wines that look more rosé than red.
The story of the Chiarli family of Modena goes back to 1850ish when Signore Cleto Chiarli made his own Lambrusco and sold it at his restaurant.
His customers loved and raved about the wine so much that he decided to start the first wine-producing company named the Cantina Cleto Chiarli. Now his great-grandsons are running the family business and have decided to create a more artisanal version of their famous Lambrusco.
I adore Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena (11% ABV). It’s creamy, frothy deep pink, and at $11 – $16 per bottle, it’s well worth it.
Don’t be fooled by the lighter color. This is a seriously great artisanal Lambrusco from one of the oldest producers.
With aromas of orange rind, ginger, and clove on the nose, and flavors of cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, violet, and lots of fine bubbles. Not overly bubbly but light and refreshing. Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco goes down easily.
I’m sure you’ll want to buy two bottles to celebrate World Lambrusco Day!
A Note of Caution When Opening Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco
Watch out as the Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco may be a little challenging to open. There’s a metal clamp over the center of the cork instead of the usual cage.
This type of closure is called agrafé (literally means “staple”) and was traditionally used to secure Champagne corks during the second fermentation in the bottle.
To open, place a bottle opener between the agrafé and cork, and pop it away from you.
Pour Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco in a wine glass, kick back, and share a bottle of #RealLambrusco with a favorite person! Salute!
Country: Italy | Region: Emilia-Romagna / Lambrusco di Sorbara | Style: Red Sparkling Wine