Spring is prom season but because of Covid, my kid had no prom. While some schools across the country figured out a way to do it, in this district they did not which meant many parents came up with alternatives — select invite only alternatives which fly in the face of the current trend for prom to be all inclusive and where teens attend with groups of friends. Friends posted pictures of exclusive cruises, backyard fancy catered parties, and tomorrow 200 or so seniors from my kid’s high school will gather at a local country club.
I’m sad for him because prom can be a great night for memory making. For my own prom night, as my boyfriend and I had split up after my tickets were bought and my dress, which I designed, was halfway sewn by my grandmother Gwen, I asked a guy I knew from summer camp to be my date and he drove up from college in LA, white tux in hand with tie and cummerbund to match my cream and lavender dress.
Turns out he also had a bottle of bubbles too. After dinner in Santa Barbara, we stopped along the Pacific Coast Highway and he popped the cork on the Andre Cold Duck and the dark beverage bubbled out — all over my ivory prom dress making me cold and wet and worried about the wine staining the dress my grandma and I had spent so much time creating.
We rushed down the freeway to a McDonalds. In the bathroom, I gathered my dress up into the sink where thankfully the wine rinsed out. Then I ran the hot air over it until it was dry enough for us to drive the rest of the way to the prom arriving just in time for a photo before they closed up. I think we got in two dances before prom was over.
So what does all this have to do with Lambrusco?
Like Cold Duck, Lambrusco was a popular sweet alcoholic beverage of the 70s and 80s when it was the most imported wine to the US. You may even remember the TV commercials for “Riunite on Ice– Very Nice!”And while I don’t think there’s a way to redeem Cold Duck, Lambrusco has certainly come a long way.
It was at an Italian wine tasting in Beverly Hills in 2017 that I had my first experience with “real” Lambrusco. I’d already been to one tasting that day and I was anxious to get on the road home.
Some tables were crowded, but one was not: “Lambrusco?” he asked. He poured a fizzy red drink into my glass and I sipped hesitantly, fearing something more Cold Duck than Champagne.
Medici Ermete- Concerto Reggiano Lambrusco 2015
SRP $22.99- Grapes: Salamino Lambrusco
Medici Ermete- Solo Reggiano Rosso 2015
SRP $19.99- Grapes: Salamino Lambrusco, Ancellotta
Medici Ermete- I Quercioli Secco Reggiano Lambrusco, NV
SRP $13.99- Grapes: Salamino Lambrusco, Marani Lambrusco
For over 120 years, the Medici family has been producing top quality Lambrusco making Medici Ermete one of the oldest Lambrusco producers in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The winery blends historic winemaking expertise with a modern, original style. Medici Ermete selects grapes exclusively from Lambrusco’s prime vineyards of the Emilia-Romagna region. They use a natural second fermentation process (Charmat method) to make fresh, fruity wines that are easy-drinking and approachable.
Cue attending the 2019 VinItaly Ambassador Course in Los Angeles where I learned that most Lambrusco comes from Emilia-Romagna (71%) with some from Puglia (20%) and the remainder coming from the Lombardy region (9%).
- derives spontaneously from seeds, not grafted like most wine grapes
- climbs trees to photosynthesize more efficiently and avoid powdery mildew
- is one of the most indigenous or native to its place wine grapes in the world
- was mentioned in the writing of the Romans.
- was named in 1596, and is one of Italy’s oldest.
- is a family of eight closely related varieties with over 60 total!
Unfortunately, I also learned that as Lambrusco has fallen out of favor, 40% of the vines have been pulled out.
At VinItaly I also met Sheila Donahue, owner of Verovinogusto, an importer and distributer of wine and food products which specializes in Italian wines. She’s based in Bologna, Italy, NYC, and Ventura CA which is just north of LA.
Through Sheila, I have sampled more Lambrusco, wines that are as far from Riunite and that Lambrusco of the 70s as possible. Instead of large batch commercial made wines, Bugno Martino farms organically and makes their artisanal wines in traditional ways. Sheila imports:
- 2019 Bugno Martino Rosso Matil de
- Bugno Martino Essentia
- 2019 Bugno Martino Ciamballa
Let’s hope as people discover the newer style of dry, organic, low intervention, and low alcohol Lambrusco they will fall in love as I have!
Personally I’ll be opening a bottle of Essentia for Lambrusco Day June 21! We’ve found it pairs really well with pizza as well as antipasti or these sausage in puff pastry pictured above.
Lambrusco is a great picnic wine but be sure to have a corkscrew because the traditional corks don’t always pop off!!
So while I’m sorry there was no prom for my son this year, hopefully my kid will have a chance to pop a bottle of real Lambrusco to celebrate life sometime in the near future. In the blink of an eye, he’ll be 21!
In the meantime, I’ll keep buying Lambrusco to share with friends for special summer celebrations that call for something cold, refreshing, and unusual.
More Lambrusco Discoveries for summer
Check out the posts below and join our Lambrusco chat on Saturday June 5 at 8am Pacific by searching the #ItalianFWT tag on Twitter.
- Camilla Mann from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Cantina Paltrinieri Radice Lambrusco di Sorbara 2018 for #WorldLambruscoDay“
- Wendy Klik from A Day in the Life on the Farm posts “A Dry Lambrusco?! Well, yes please“
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson from Somms Table adds “The Lighter Side of Lambrusco“
- Pinny Tam from Chinese Food and Wine Pairings brings “A Dry Lambrusco from Riunite with One-Person Shabu-shabu Dinner“
- Jeff Burrows from Food Wine Click! writes “Classic Aperitivo from Emilia-Romagna“
- Lynn Gowdy from Savor the Harvest says “Time for Lambrusco“
- Robin Bell Renken from Crushed Grape Chronicles pens “Banish me to Mantua, with a glass of Lambrusco Mantovano“
- Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley from Wine Predator suggests “Celebrate Summer with a Dry RED Sparkling Wine: Lambrusco to the Rescue!”
- Deanna Kang from Asian Test Kitchen showcases, “A Gluten Free Brunch Paired with Lini Labrusca Wines“
- Terri Oliver Steffes from Our Good Life joins with “5 Things I Learned about Lambrusco and the Best Food Pairings“
- Host Susannah at Avvinare will showcase “Versatile Lambrusco, A Wine For Every Mood“
Here are the chat questions:
- 11:00 am ET
- Welcome to #ItalianFWT chat for June on Lambrusco! Where are you tweeting from? Introduce yourself, share a link to your blog. Visitors and Wineries too!
- 11:05 am ET
- Q2 Which Lambrusco did you write about? Tell us something you learned #ItalianFWT
- 11:10am ET
- Q3 Tell us about the wine you’re featuring today. Was it easy to find? #ItalianFWT
- 11:15am ET
- Q4 Was this your first Lambrusco? How much did you know about the grape and the wines it makes before the chat #ItalianFWT
- 11:20 am ET
- Q5 What surprised you about Lambrusco? Was this a fun topic? #ItalianFWT
- 11:25 am ET
- Q6 What did you choose for your pairing? Reasons? Post a link! #ItalianFWT
- 11:30 am ET
- Q7 Have you visited Emilia Romagna or Lombardy? Are they on your bucket list? #ItalianFWT
- 11:35am ET
- Q8 Do you usually drink Lambrusco? Would you be more prone to order one now, having had this chat? #ItalianFWT
- 11:40am ET
- Q9 What would you tell a wine novice about this grape and the wines that it makes to entice them to try it? #ItalianFWT
- 11:45am ET
- Q10 Can you find many or just one Lambrusco in your local stores? #ItalianFWT
- Q11 Do you have any final thoughts or new questions for the group? #ItalianFWT
- Thanks for joining Lambrusco chat. Be sure to join #ItalianFWT in July as we explore Ramato Wines with Rupal Desai Shankar @SyrahQueen