When you think of sipping wine on a hot summer day, what do you picture? Chilled Pinot Grigio and rosé, of course. But what about chilled red? As you may have heard by now, chilling any red wine is awesome. But there’s one particular light and fizzy red that’s perfect for summer: Lambrusco.
Lambrusco wine is typically sparkling; it has a light, gentle fizz unlike the sharp bubbles of Cava. It’s Italian, made from the Lambrusco grape, which grows mostly in Emilia-Romagna but also in Lombardy. Within those regions, there are five sub-regional categorizations: Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Mantovano, Reggiano, Salamino di Santa Croce, and di Sorbara. There are also six varieties of the Lambrusco grape itself: Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Montericco, Salamino, and Sorbara. Each region offers different kinds of wine that vary in sweetness and body.
Sparkling red wine may sound similar to a sweet spritzer, but Lambrusco is actually a legitimate, tasty wine that pairs well with thin-crust pizza, berry stuffed pastries, and all sorts of pasta. You can pair Lambrusco from Salamini di Santa Croce with light pastas drizzled in olive oil, and Lambrusco di Sobara with pastas that have heavier, more meat-based sauces. Not only does the wine cut through food with its acidity, but the bubbles help with digesting rich creams and meats.
Many Lambrusco wines are blends of different types of Lambrusco grapes. While Lambrusco as a whole is red and sparkling, each sub-region has its own wine style. For example, the region of Grasparossa di Castelvetro makes a structured, tannic wine that has to be comprised of at least 85% – you guessed it -Grasparossa grapes. Lambrusco Mantovano, which is the only Lambrusco made in Lombardy, makes both semi-sweet and dry wines. Lambrusco Salamini di Santa Croce produces lighter, more summer appropriate wines. Lambrusco Reggiana and di Sorbara are fuller-bodied wines, with the latter being considered the creme de la creme of Lambrusco.
The next time you’re having a summer meal, pass on the chilled white and pour yourself an effervescent glass of Lambrusco. It’s becoming more available in the U.S., and it’s usually pretty inexpensive. Bon appetito!