With so many tasty goodies in Emilia-Romagna, it’s sometimes hard to focus on the wine. I mean it is the home of parmigiana-reggiano (parmesan) cheese,1 prosciutto di Parma (aka Parma ham), balsamic vinegar,2 Spaghetti Bolognese,3 and tortellini.
After all that great eating, it’s definitely easy to see why the wines have a more difficult time shining. But the wines are absolutely worth exploring.
This month, the #ItalianFWT writers are focused on “Pink Wines Made from Italy’s Native Grapes.” It was a difficult choice, as Italy has like what seems to be a thousand grapes, but I ended up choosing a Lambrusco Rosato.
Some Emilia-Romagna and Lambruso Background
With respect to its wines, Emilia-Romagna is home to 2 DOCG and 21 DOC designated regions. For some who know of Emilia-Romagna wine, it may be for the region’s Lambrusco. Not that old sweet swill that gave it a bad name (but yes there is still some out there), but the tasty, fizzy wines that are (rightfully so) making a comeback. Lambrusco is hands down one of my favorite BBQ wines, as I wrote about here.
Lambrusco actually refers to a family of grapes, each with its own distinct characteristics. Lambrusco Grasparossa, which is the boldest, most full-bodied, and most masculine; Lambrusco Maestri, which is a bit softer; Lambrusco Salamino, which is quite aromatic but also has a higher level of tannin; and Lambrusco do Sorbara, which is the lightest, smoothest, and most delicate.
There are 5 DOCs for Lambrusco – Lambrusco di Modena, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castlevetro, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, and Reggiano. Outside of this, a significant amount of Lambrusco is bottled as Emilia IGT. Wherever it’s from, do find some of the better producers and give it a whirl.
Lambrusco is usually made as either red or rosato wine and can be secco (dry), amabile (semi-sweet), or dolce (sweet). There is also a white Lambrusco which is quite the unicorn. While most are made in the Tank Method like Prosecco, there are a some produced in the traditional Champagne Method and increasingly more in the Ancestrale Method. Remember that tasty Pet-Nat I was just talking about?
What I love about these wines is that they are unpretentious. No lengthy tasting notes need apply here. Just quaff along and enjoy them for what they are. And more than that, Lambrusco is the “wine of freedom” as my good friend and Italian wine expert Jeremy Parzen wrote.
Just try to find another wine like this, anywhere in the world! A wine that knows how to wash down antifascist tortelli and cappelletti so well. A wine that makes you want to get up from the table and sing. Just try to find one but I’ll be raising a glass of Lambrusco for you.Jeremy Parzen of DoBianchi.com translating Anarchist Luigi Veronelli
And can’t we all appreciate freedom?
Cantina di Carpi NotteRosa Modena Brut Rosato
My chosen Lambrusco rosato was the Cantina di Carpi NotteRosa Modena Brut Rosato, which is crafted of 70% Salamino and 30% Sorbara.
While it doesn’t explicitly state on the label, this one appears to be from the Lambrusco di Modena DOC. The wine’s name was inspired by Italy’s Notte Bianca celebrations. Notte Bianco translates to ‘White Night’ which is an all night party that dates back to 1833 in Abruzzo. Notte Bianca features concerts, fireworks, art, street food, bars, and more that lasts all night long. Rome made the event popular in 2003 and now it’s celebrated all over Italy and Europe including Milan, Verona, Naples, Milan, Paris, Barcelona, and more. The local iteration of the event in Emilia-Romagna is called Notte Rosa where the cities are all decorated in pink. Inspired by the friendship and culture that the events promote, this fun, laid back wine was so named.
Fruity and floral notes (likely from the Salamino) are front and center on the nose with high levels of tingling acidity on the palate. Delicate, and bone dry at 11.5% alcohol and initially served chilled around 45 degrees. I can’t recall having a wine that was so dry and so high acid being so low in alcohol. Fine by me! We paired the wine with grilled shrimp burgers topped with an avocado aioli.
The bracing acidity of the wine was a great foil for the creamy aioli. This pairing was all about summer living. And while I enjoy drinking the traditional red Lambruscos, Lambrusco rosato is just as fun and fresh.
Other Emilia-Romagna Pink Wines I Love
Another Lambrusco rosato that I absolutely love is the Lini Labrusca Rosato. I’ve had it on a few occasions and love it on its own as well as with Cajun and Creole cuisine. In fact, I love anything from Lini.
I have never visited Italy save for a short trip to Venice, but the more I learn, the more I think Emilia-Romagna should be the first region I visit for wine. With mountains, hot springs, beaches on the Adriatic, and castles galore, there is much to see and do. And if you’re a car aficionado, as Mr. Corkscrew is, the region is home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. I could start in Parma and work my way southeast through Modena and Bologna until I got to the Adriatic. Now if only we can get this pandemic to go away!
Be sure to check out what the other #ItalianFWT writers are tasting and pairing.