Along the Po River in Northern Italy, surrounding the city of Bologna, lies the region of Emilia-Romagna. This historical area is a culinary dream with towns like Modena, Parma, and Reggiano at its heart. In terms of wine, the claim to fame for Emilia-Romagna is fizzy, red wines like Lambrusco.
Dating back to the seventh century BC, this is one of Italy’s oldest wine-producing regions. Vines were introduced by the Etruscans and then taken over by the Romans, not in the common modern-day variety of vinis vinifera, but of vinis lambrusca.
The fizzy red wine used to come with a bad reputation. They were criticized for being too harsh and bland, having to be consumed while young unlike many of the other outstanding, long-vintage reds of the Old World.
This red bubbly is made by the traditional Champagne method which is focused on the secondary fermentation. In the past, this process took place directly in the bottle which caused a lot of explosions, so now it is monitored in pressure-resistant, temperature-controlled tanks. At first, this caused the quality of Lambrusco to suffer but over the last few decades, winemakers have gone to great lengths to improve the Lambrusco and all of its variations.
There are Lambrusco variations from all parts of this foodie heaven and they each have their own unique palate. Lambrusco di Modena, from the same place that balsamic vinegar is produced, comes as a red and a rosé, both frothy and bright. In another famous town, the Lambrusco di Reggiano, home of the delicious cheese, produces full-bodied reds that range from sweet to dry, while Lambrusco di Sorbara is higher in acidity.
You can find other grapes here, one of which is the Sangiovese, producing the Sangiovese di Romagna, a deep red that is full of tannins and berry aromas. Although this is a mostly red grape region, there’s a lovely balanced white produced here called Pignoletto that is full of citrus and herb flavors.
The region of Emilia-Romagna really is a culinary paradise! There is so much to enjoy from the cheeses to the wines, and everything in between.
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