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…

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!

“Lambrusco’s Comeback, and Why It’s Brushing Shoulders with Rosé”
Jenn Rice
Vogue

In Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s most prized gastronomic treasures, Lambrusco is to Italians as coffee is to Americans. The frothy, refreshing, bubbly red can be spotted at every restaurant table, most likely accompanied by something mouthwatering of the Prosciutto di Parma or Culatello di Zibello nature.

Click here to continue reading…

From the February 2020 issue of Food & Wine magazine:

LINI 910 Labrusca Rosso NV

Forget everything you know about Lambrusco. This dry sparkling red — almost purple — wine is made by a fourth generation producer in the tiny Italian town of Canolo. Full of dark berry fruit, it’s one of my favorite winter dinner-party pours.

Ray Isle (above with Alicia)
Executive Wine Editor
Food & Wine

“This very dry, earthy, ruby-red version,” writes leading wine critic Elin McCoy for Bloomberg this month, “is like liquid cranberries, perfect for drinking while you wrap presents.”

It’s one of her “fun fizz” recommendations for her widely followed “50 Best Wines under $50” column this year.

Click here for all of her picks.

Happy holidays, everyone!

“I’m just going to come out and say it,” writes Epicurious associate editor Joe Sevier this month. “Thanks to its deep, juicy flavor and lightly sparkling body, Lambrusco is the only wine you need to serve at Thanksgiving 2019.”

We couldn’t agree more!

He recommended two of Lini’s wines for this year’s Thanksgiving feast. See what he had to say in his tasting notes below.

And check out his article on “why Lambrusco is the only wine you need for Thanksgiving” here.

It’s one of the best Thanksgiving wine pieces this year, funny and intelligent, with great insights into why Lambrusco makes for the ideal Thanksgiving pairing. Thank you, Joe! We loved this article (and not just because we’re mentioned in it)!

Here are his tasting notes:

    Lini 910 ‘Labrusca’ Lambrusco Rosso: This bright, tart wine comes from Lini 910, an Italian producer that’s become pretty synonymous with modern Lambrusco in America. This offering is a little intense to drink on its own, but the sour, pungent, blueberry notes make it a great addition to a spread of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and green bean casserole. Save it for dinnertime.
    Lini 910 In Correggio Lambrusco Scuro: This just off-dry bottling has those plummy, juicy flavors that you might favor in a Pinot Noir, and finishes clean and bright. It’s grapey and fizzy and crowd-pleasing.

It’s that time of the year again when wine writers across the United States will begin posting and publishing their “Thanksgiving wine recommendations.”

And inevitably, many of them will start their posts with apologetic admissions that Thanksgiving wine pairings are almost impossible to make. That’s because of two major reasons.

1) The classic all-American Thanksgiving feast includes a wide variety of dishes, disparate in flavor. As a result, there’s no “one wine” that goes well with everything on the table.

2) The Thanksgiving gathering is traditionally a family affair where you have all kinds of different people, with different palates and tastes, seated for the same meal. Not everyone likes the same style of wine. For some of your guests, it’s the only time of year that they actually drink wine!

And here’s where Lambrusco comes in. There are a number of reasons why it works well with the Thanksgiving meal.

1) It’s immensely versatile at the table and superbly food-friendly. It will pair well with a lot of the dishes in the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

2) It’s both a crowd-pleaser that inexperienced wine drinkers can enjoy and a classic Italian wine that wine lovers will like.

3) It’s low in alcohol and so guests don’t need to be shy about having more than one glass.

4) It’s one of the sparkling wine world’s most value-driven appellations. This is important when you’re serving wine to a large group.

5) It’s the ultimate celebration wine. Its sparkle is an essential element in any holiday party.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American friends! In coming weeks, we’ll share more serving and pairing suggestions here on the blog.

Congratulations to our U.S. importer, Winebow, named one of the “importer of the year 2019” by the editors of Wine & Spirits magazine!

“Next time you’re faced with a sea of wines you don’t recognize,” write the editors, “check the back of the bottle. That’s what we do, looking for importers we recognize and trust, like our six Importers of the Year. They’ve earned the most awards this year, with multiple brands among our Top 100 Wineries, Top 100 Wines and Best Buys of 2019. If you find importers whose tastes and interests align with your own, you’ll have guideposts you can trust to lead you to new bottles.”

Heartfelt congrats to the entire team at Winebow! We love working with you guys!

On Monday, October 7, Alicia Lini (above) will be speaking and leading a guided tasting at the Women in Wine Leadership Symposium in New York.

From the WWLS website:

    Started in 2012, the Women in Wine Leadership Symposium (WWLS) has a mission to empower and educate women in the wine industry through a series of panel discussions and wine tastings. The WWLS, hosted by Winebow, was the first event of its kind with winemakers from around the world, sommeliers, retailers, educators, and journalists coming together to create a collective dialogue on experiences, insights, and strategies for success.

The invitation-only event is attended by the best-of-the-best among today’s wine media members and wine producers.

We couldn’t be more thrilled that Alicia was asked to present Lini wines and talk about her experiences as a wine professional and the fourth generation of the Lini winery.

See the complete list of featured speakers here.