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Okay, it was going to get really interesting if the Medici’s of Emilia who ignored clamoring for sweeter Lambrusco and reclaimed Lambrusco from root beer drinkers were related to the same Medici’s from Florence who produced two popes. But there is no relation between the families despite sharing the same surnames. Nonetheless, Medici Ermete Concerto Lambrusco is the perfect wine to enjoy in Florida’s steamy summers that call for light bodied reds. (Yes, we understand that steamy summers are not only specific to Florida but we just got back from Orlando. We also want to follow up on the Lambrusco discussion from a recent interview on our YouTube show.)
The “Lambrusco boom” is well documented. Lambrusco was one of the first wines to be imported from Italy. At the time, riesling and blush wines with sweeter flavor profiles were gaining popularity. To tap into this demand for sweeter wines, Lambrusco makers abandoned protocols that remove residual sugar in the wine. Specifically, they interrupted the secondary fermentation in the production process, leaving more sugar and fizz in the wine. This also accelerated the production so producers were making more of what the market demanded and in less time.
Copywriters and art directors on Madison Avenue played a role in this shift towards sweeter wine. Lambrusco was always marketed as fun, affordable and drinkable. “Success is counted sweetest," reads in part in a poem by Emily Dickinson about how success is best understood by those who fail. Advertisers however interpreted that to mean success needs to taste sweet. This insight undoubtedly was telexed (precursor to faxing) to Lambrusco producing wineries.
As a result of this concerted effort by wineries and marketing firms there was the “Lambrusco boom.” The fizzy nectar was one of the most imported wines in America, with 13 million imported in 1977 alone.
Remember, success is counted sweetest by those who fail according to Emily Dickinson. Well, Lambrusco would get a taste of failure as so much Lambrusco was being produced that consistency and quality started to suffer. As quantity was sacrificed for quality Lambrusco’s favorablity waned.
But the Medici’s of Emilia in Italy did not panic. They are fourth generation winemakers who spearheaded a Lambrusco revival after the mass produced sweeter Lambrusco fell out of favor with consumers by returning to Lambrusco’s roots as characterized by a crisp, acidic taste, with little to no residual sugar. Dry Lambrusco can range in color from deep ruby to light purple and has aromas of red fruit, such as raspberry and cherry, along with floral notes. It typically has a medium body and moderate tannins, with a refreshing, dry finish.
Dry Lambrusco is often paired with traditional Emilian cuisine, such as cured meats, pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces, and rich, hearty stews. It is also a great wine to pair with pizza, as the acidity and effervescence help to cut through the richness of the cheese and toppings. If pizza makes the cut this means that barbecue, the original American pastime, also pairs well with Lambrusco.
Overall, dry Lambrusco is a refreshing, versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of foods and is a great alternative to heavier, tannic red wines that are not pleasing to the palate especially in Florida’s sizzling summers.
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