Lambrusco, the Sparkling Red of a Land in Tune

9th November 2017


One of the most famous operas written by Giuseppe Verdi, the Italian opera composer, at the beginning offers sort of lightheartedness in listening to these words: “ Libiamo, libiamo ne’ lieti calici, che la bellezza infiora; e la fuggevol’ ora s’inebrii a voluttà. Libiam ne’ dolci fremiti che suscita l’amore, poiché quell’occhio al core onnipossente va. Libiamo, amore; amor fra i calici più caldi baci avrà.” Taken from La Traviata this aria shows people dressed in ball gowns and black suits enjoying a sumptuous banquet with exquisite food and sparkling wines, whilst raising a glass to celebrate life.

Performed in the main theatres of the world, such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Opera House in London, the Scala in Milan, this scene enacted in the first act of the opera, is an invitation to delight in wine and love pleasures.

How could we forget the outstanding interpretations gifted by the Tenor Luciano Pavarotti who gave Alfredo’s character a bold personality and impetuous passion? They are emotions that will be impressed in your heart forever.

The Tenor’s fondness for music wasn’t his only one. He truly loved pasta and wine as well, especially chilled Lambrusco, the sparkling red produced in his native land: the Modena’s countryside.

During the autumn, these marvellous places are painted by warm colours which give wine lovers an astonishing view of the vineyards dressed in ruby red, pumpkin orange and ochre yellow. It’s right here that Lambrusco grapes have been cultivated since the medieval period giving birth to “uno spumante selvaggio e ineducato” as Luciano Pavarotti used to name this wine.

Lambrusco production is spread all over the province of Modena in the hilly and semi-hilly areas south of the via Emilia on dry soils in the Emilia-Romagna region and includes four varieties: Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco di Modena.

The wines are mainly obtained through the Charmat method and are characterized by manifest olfactory notes that are winey and slightly fruity, as well as generating an evanescent foam that has a delicate purplish hue around the edges.

Lambrusco is excellent as an aperitif and goes divinely with Modena’s typical dishes such as zampone, cotechino with lentils, lasagna, tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini in brodo. It can be paired also with cheese especially with Parmigiano Reggiano.

The Tasting

When tasting a Lambrusco, you may be surprised by its lively mousse that lasts for so long accompanying you during the experience like a soundtrack with intensely vibrant notes.

Lambrusco Modena “Pruno Nero” Dry, Cleto Chiarli
Intriguing rich and intense wine. 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa offers notes of blackcurrant and blackberry.

Vigneto Cialdini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Cleto Chiarli
Round yet lively, with simple, but pleasing flavours of earthy red fruits.

Primevo Lambrusco Sorbara, Villa di Corlo
Agile and balanced, gives off aromas of rose and redcurrant, vibrant and refreshing.

Lambrusco Sorbara classic method 2013 dosaggio zero, Zucchi
Fragrant wine with notes of rose in blossom and violet. Spicy overtone.

Lancillotto Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Barbolini
Tart with a textbook combination of sweet and bitter flavours, reminiscent of cherry and strawberry.

Grosso Lambrusco di Modena classic method brut 2014, Cantina Paltrinieri
Round yet rich, evokes scents of blueberry, violet and wild strawberries, staying power and lively acidity.

There is a natural and undeniable connection between Lambrusco and opera: perhaps because Giuseppe Verdi was born in this region, perhaps because this sparkling red was Luciano Pavarotti’s favourite or just because its foam sounds like an instrument. Anyway, whatever it is, drinking a glass of Lambrusco is reminiscent of being in a theatre: golden embroideries embellish theatre boxes where people quietly wait. Thick red velvet curtains slowly open up unveiling the scene. For a few seconds silence suspends time; let the show begin.

Stefania Ruffo

Stefania Ruffo

Wine Educator at Università del Gusto, Wine Writer at Glass of Bubbly. Owner and Founder at Enjoyourwine. Find me on Twitter - @enjoyourwine