Versatile Lambrusco, A Wine For Every Mood

The #ItalianFWT group is looking at Lambrusco this month. I love the above map of the regions of Emilia Romagna because it shows you where the specific Lambrusco varities hail from. What it doesn’t show you is how many varieties there are, 60 to be precise, or how wonderful and versatile the wines made with these grapes are.

This second map does however show the amazing wealth of products that Emilia is famous for. So many of these dishes and delicacies work with Lambrusco. There are a number of nicknames for Bologna, Bologna la Grassa (the fat one) is the one that recalls how wonderful the food is in that city. While Bologna la Dotta (Learned) is the one that gives a shout out to the fact that Bologna is the site of the first University in the Western World, founded in 1088. It’s third nickname has always been Bologna La Rossa because of its left learning politics.

Lambrusco comes not only from varied varieties but also in different styles and hails from a number of provinces, Modena, Reggio Emilia, and in Lombardy, from Mantova. It can be made in a sweet, dry, rose and even into a white wine. The DOCs are listed below

Modena DOC


Reggiano DOC


Mantova DOC


For this event, I tried a Lini Lambrusco and Riunite for old times sake. Lini has been making wines in this area since 1910. It is a family affair and they are on their fourth generation. The family makes a number of wines including a Rose and Lambrusco in bianco or a white wine as well as the more traditional ones. The one I had was 85% lambrusco salamino 15% ancellotta. It was made in the charmat method and has about 11% alcohol.

Lambrusco tends to have lower alcohol than many other red wines we see which makes it a great food pairing wine but also as an aperitivo. I love a cold glass of Lambrusco as an aperitivo such as this one from Lini where Salamino is the principal grape. If I order one in the States, sometimes people are surprised, but I notice that then my friends follow suit and are all pleased because it is so refreshing yet weighty enough to pair with finger foods.

Moving on in a meal, one could pair a Lambrusco with a first course such as the famed Tortellini in Brodo with say a Lambrusco di Sorbara, one of the lighter and elegant version of Lambrusco. If the meal had a second course, a roast or other white meats, or perhaps a plate of charcuterie and cheese, I am thinking a Lambrusco di Grasparossa.

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Lambrusco Reggiano comes from the province of Reggio Emilia and is usually made with Lambrusco Marani and Lambrusco Salamino. It often presents floral aromas and can be sweet. I bought this bottle of Riunite at Total Wine because it was the only one they had. I ordered a number of others but they haven’t arrived yet from Astor in New York which has a great selection. The one I bought and tried had loads of sugar, 42 g/l, and low alcohol, at 8.5%. As I wrote in my preview piece, I remember the “Riunite on Ice” campaigns from the 1980s when I was a teenager. It think my high school boyfriend and I probably bought a bottle and thought we were pretty mature. I’m sure we drank it while eating Baked Zitti, another 1980s food memory but I digress. My point it that whichever Lambrusco you try, they are great, versatile wines and I hope gracing your glass from now on.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are saying about the wines they discovered and please join us on June 5th at 11:00am EST on Twitter for our monthly chat. Use our hashtag, #ItalianFWT and let us know what you think of these great wines.


  1. I absolutely love that food map. Wish I had that prior to my pairing….oh, well, perhaps I will need to reach outside of my comfort zone and order up another bottle LOL.

    • Wendy, Yes Lambrusco is great with those regional dishes. Maybe try again, different brand and see what you think with some aged cheese and charcuterie. Cheers to you for going outside your comfort zone. Susannah

  2. These maps are Wonderful! Lambrusco is so full of memories, I love that you digressed.
    I often fall into a nostalgia thing with Lambruscos, but they are so much more than those Reunites! I expected to learn about one wine, and found that with Lambrusco there is not just one style or variety for that matter.
    I have to say, I will be on the look out for the Lini wines. They look like fun people! Are you sure they make wine, and that they are not a band? I mean the photo could be an album cover.

  3. Thanks for hosting this month Susannah! Having not had Lambrusco for some time, great to review it and pop one. Talking about sweet versions, Ian D’Agata in his Grapes book shares they are the least common yet I hear about them often. What’s your take on this?

  4. Baked zitti and lambrusco works for me! I have fond memories of both but have never tried them together. I wasn’t aware though of the DOC designations divided by Modena and Reggiano and the wine maps are SUPER helpful! It seems there are so many more lambruscos to explore than I can find in the US. I look forward to reading about your shipment when you receive them!

  5. I suppose it isn’t surprising that Lambrusco is a bit overlooked when you see all the amazing foods from Emilia-Romagna. Luckily, it is a perfect partner to so many of them!

  6. I love the memory of you and your boyfriend enjoying a bottle of Lambrusco with baked ziti. Actually, that still sounds really good to me! This is a great refresher on all the types, and I really love the map showcasing all of delicacies from Emilia Romagna !

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