Celebrate Summer with a Nice Cold Dry RED Sparkler: Lambrusco to the Rescue! #ItalianFWT

Bugno Martino’s 3 Lambrusco are imparted by Verovinogusto

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. 

Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised by what I tasted and I eagerly engaged the producer to learn that Lambrusco can be dry yet full of fruit.

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.

Read more about these wines and parings here.

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%).

I also learned these fun facts which I wrote about here. Lambrusco:

  • 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

Read more about these three Bugno Martino wines here on Wine Predator from this December 2020 article.

In “Don’t Say No to Lambrusco” learn more about Lambrusco, Bugno Martino, and order wine on the Verovino website here.

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.

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
    • 11:50am
    • Q11 Do you have any final thoughts or new questions for the group? #ItalianFWT
    • 11:55am
    • Thanks for joining Lambrusco chat. Be sure to join #ItalianFWT in July as we explore Ramato Wines with Rupal Desai Shankar @SyrahQueen

11 thoughts on “Celebrate Summer with a Nice Cold Dry RED Sparkler: Lambrusco to the Rescue! #ItalianFWT

  1. Oh my goodness. I am sorry about your son’s prom….this dang COVID…but going to the country club will bring it’s own memories for him to share. Thanks for sharing yours with us and I’m happy that your dress was saved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gwendoly, I love this post and the memories of your prom, that Cold Duck, washing it off in the sink and your grandmother. I’m sorry your son is missing Prom but hopefully he will have more chances to celebrate soon. You’ve got the Lambrusco spirit I see and I enjoyed reading all of your posts and pairing ideas for these wines. That Vinitaly class seems to have had a number of positive offshoots including meeting Sheila. Cheers to you and your son. Susannah

    Like

  3. Gwendolyn, I love this post and the memories of your prom, that Cold Duck, washing it off in the sink and your grandmother. I’m sorry your son is missing Prom but hopefully he will have more chances to celebrate soon. You’ve got the Lambrusco spirit I see and I enjoyed reading all of your posts and pairing ideas for these wines. That Vinitaly class seems to have had a number of positive offshoots including meeting Sheila. Cheers to you and your son. Susannah

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was taken away by this enchanting story. For many of us, Lambrusco brings nostalgia. I love that it so much more.
    Your facts on Lambrusco are fascinating! I had no idea that it grows from seeds, and climbs trees? Are there wineries that harvest from vines on trees I wonder? (I envision old vines climbing trees that they now dwarf!) And I thought I had lots to learn on the varieties, now there is, even more, digging to do! Such a fascinating region and wine!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a prom night story and memories you have! Do you have a photo of the dress? I’d love to see it. I might be the only person who hasn’t tried Cold Duck or Riunite although certainly have heard about them. The Quercioli is the same wine I had, their US version. Betting that if those producers making their Lambrusco via method ancestral (like Bugno Martino) marketed it as Pet Nat, popularity might increase?!? Great article ;-D

    Liked by 1 person

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