For those of you attending Vinitaly this year, we hope to see you at the Lini stand: Hall 3, Stand C6.

Last week we posted about a creative/international pairing for Lambrusco (Lambrusco and fried boudin balls).

So this week we thought we’d do a post about one of Lambrusco’s most traditional and unquestionably canonical pairings: salumi, the Italian word for charcuterie.

Salumi are produced in every one of Italy’s 20 regions.

But there is no region more closely associated with salumi than Emilia.

And there’s also no place in Italy where salumi are so central to the cuisine.

That’s partly owed to the fact that salumi in Emilia are considered one of the greatest expressions of Emilian terroir.

That’s a slice of culatello above, the air-dried salume made from the pig’s rump. It can only be cured in Emilia and most experts agree that it’s unique aroma, flavor, and texture is the result of process that relies heavily on Emilia’s unique climatic conditions.

In fact, you can reproduce the process in other parts of the world, as many have. But you can never replicate the aromas, flavors, and textures that you obtain in the spiritual homeland of salumi.

The same holds for prosciutto (made from the pig’s thigh) and other iconic salumi from Emilia.

The canonical pairing for this most canonical of foods?

Canonically, exclusively, and absolutely LAMBRUSCO!

For those of you attending Vinitaly this year, we hope to see you at the Lini stand: Hall 3, Stand C6.

Lini will also be poured in a fantastic flight of wines to be presented by Daniele Cernilli (above), one of Italy’s leading wine writers and wine critics.

On Sunday, April 7 (the first day of the fair), he’s leading a 2 p.m. seminar on sparkling wine that will include the Lini 2006 Lambrusco Metodo Classico.

It’s one not to miss!

Click here for info and registration details.

According to a feature story published in the finance section of the Italian national daily La Stampa last week, “Americans are going crazy for Italian sparkling wines.”

“Sparkling wine is leading ‘made in Italy’ wines in the U.S.,” writes the author of the piece.

“The most recent data shared by the [Italian] Trade Commission in America taste like an important milestone for Italy. In 2018, [Italian] wine exports grew by 6.8 percent in terms of value… the highest increase over the last 5 years and 1.2 percent higher than the previous year… the United States has established itself as the top market for Italian wine exports. It takes in roughly a quarter of the total number of bottles sold abroad.”

But the best news for sparkling wine producers is that Americans have become the leading consumers of Italian bubbles as well.

“Italy is the top supplier of white wines in the U.S., accounting for 40 percent of the market. It’s also the top supplier of red wines, accounting for 32.5 percent. And in the sparkling wine category, [Italy] dominates the market in terms of quantities with 57 percent of imports.”

At Vinitaly this year, Lini 910 will be sharing some big news as it begins a new chapter in its market presence in America. Stay tuned!

Many wine historians believe that Lambrusco was the first grape to be used for wine production in Italy.

The Latin word labrusca (from which Lambrusco is derived) means literally wild, as in vitis labrusca or wild grape .

Today, we use the term vitis labrusca side-by-side with vitis vinifera. The former denotes naturally occurring grape varieties while the latter is used for European grape varieties that have been cultivated and selected by humankind for wine production.

Some speculate that the Etruscans — the ancient people of Italy — were the first to vinify vitis labrusca in Italy.

Italy’s agriculturally rich Po River Valley has always been the spiritual homeland of Lambrusco where it is grown predominantly in the region of Emilia.

By the first part of the 20th century, it had become a popular wine in the inns and taverns that dotted the Via Emilia — the ancient road that traverses the region. And as Italy industrialized during the years that led up to the Second World War, Lambrusco became the true “wine of the people” — the preferred wine of factory workers who craved its refreshing flavors.

After World War II, as Italy’s “economic miracle” began to take shape, Lambrusco’s popularity only continued to grow throughout the country. It was the perfect wine to pair with the Italians’ newfound prosperity and optimism. By the end of the 1960s, Lambrusco’s bubbles had become a symbol of the country’s new outlook and hope for the future.

And that’s when Lambrusco began to be exported to North America, where wine culture was just beginning to emerge.

But the wine that the larger Lambrusco producers decided to ship to the U.S. in the 1970s was a new sweet version of Lambrusco. Americans like sweet wines and they like sweet beverages (like soft drinks), the thinking went. So it only made sense to send them off-dry Lambrusco.

By the end of the decade, however, Americans were evolving rapidly as wine lovers and they had begun to develop a taste for dry wines. Although Lambrusco had become an immensely successful category in Canada and the U.S., interestquickly began to wane.

It wouldn’t be until the first decade of the 21st century that North Americans’ interest in Lambrusco would be reborn.

When Lini’s wines landed in New York in 2006, they were the first dry Lambruscos that many Americans had ever tasted. And they were also among the first artisanal Lamburscos to reach the New World. Most American food and wine writers had never tasted anything like them.

At the time, interest in Italian native grape varieties and traditional-style wines was exploding in New York City and Lini 910 literally became the toast of the town: The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine magazine, and many other high-profile mastheads all published glowing reviews of the wines.

When Lini 910 was first asked to sell and ship its wines to America, the winery decided to rename one of its wines Labrusca after the ancient grapes that the Etruscans grew.

And the rest is history.

To be continued…

Here at our house, one of our favorite Sunday night traditions is steak and French fries dinner. We pan-fire prime New York strip steaks from our favorite local butcher and we roast hand-cut French fries.

Just to give the steak some added flavor, I’ll also sauté a large jalapeño pepper and some scallions in the same pan (I generally start cook the pepper and scallions before I add the steak, which I rub generously with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper).

It’s all-American evening in Houston, Texas, where we also usually watch a movie together for the occasion.

Americans are so hung up on drinking “big” tannic wine with steak. They often think that Cabernet Sauvignon — and in particular, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, with its signature “big” style — is the only wine category worth of a great piece of beef.

It doesn’t occur to most that Lambrusco is actually a very tannic grape. And few know that it makes for a sublime pairing with charred steak like the ones we like to make a couple of times of month (after all, we have two little kids at home and steak is a great excuse to get them to enjoy protein).

Of course, like any good Texan, I like my steak served with a little bit of heat, hence the jalapeño and the habanero-based sauce I like to use with my beef.

That’s another reason why I like serving Lambrusco with steak: Because it’s served chilled and because it sparkles with freshness, the heat doesn’t overwhelm it the way it would a Nebbiolo or a tannic Pinot Noir, for example.

The next time you sit down to a great hunk of beef, pop open a bottle of Lambrusco. Trust me: you’ll thank us.

Jeremy Parzen
blog master

We call it “historic” because Alicia’s 2007 interview on WNYC public radio in New York is what helped to launch Lini wines in New York and the U.S. more than a decade ago. That’s where the story began. And the rest is “history.”

Click here to listen to the show. It’s a great way to understand what an uphill battle it was for Alicia when she first brought her family’s wines to New York.

Back in 2007, wine lovers’ perceptions of Lambrusco was much different than today.

Alicia helped to change those perceptions and she paved the way for countless other Lambrusco producers who followed in her footsteps.

It’s a really great show. You won’t regret it…

The Lini Lambrusco USA blogger visited the winery in Correggio last week and snapped the above photo.

That label, with the distinctive Bacchus drawing, was created expressly for a village fair that Lini hosted in 1972.

It would later be used, starting in the first decade of this century, as the now iconic label for Lini’s Lambrusco “Labrusca.”

Lini’s roots stretch back four generations in the world of Lambrusco and Italian wine. The family’s history is rich with cultural treasures — like this now unmistakable label, a Lambrusco icon!