Lambrusco Rosso La Fogarina
This week's wine is a Lambrusco made from the Lambrusco di Fogarina grape. Lambrusco is an Italian semi-sparkling red wine. It can get kind of a bad reputation, because when it's not made well or not made properly, it can be overly sweet and taste for like a soda than a wine. Some "big box" wine producers put in added sugars on purpose, to make it unnaturally sweet, so that it's approachable for people that don't really drink wine. When Lambrusco is properly made, it doesn't have any excess sugar and isn't any sweeter than the average red wine. I picked up this Lambrusco at Wine Authorities, because I could trust them to only stock delicious, authentic Lambrusco.
Lambrusco is a fun wine. It's one of the few types of sparkling red wine, and it's generally served at a colder temperature than most red wines, so it's incredibly refreshing on a summer day. A few months ago I wrote about a sparkling wine made using the traditional French method, and noted that there are different methods of making different types of sparkling wine. Lambrusco is made using the Tank Method, which is also used to make Prosecco. The main difference between the two methods in where the second fermentation occurs. In the traditional french method, the second fermentation happens after the wine has been bottled, in the tank method, it happens in a large tank. After the base wine is made, the wine is added to a large tank with a sugar and yeast mixture. The sugar and yeast cause the wine to ferment again, and the carbon dioxide released during this second fermentation is what causes the bubbles that make the wine sparkling. After the wine has fermented, it's bottled without aging. This means that Proseccos and Lambruscos tend to have a younger, brighter taste than Champagne.
I drank this wine with Erik, and we paired it with some homemade pizza. When Erik took a sip of the wine, he said that it tasted "fun," which is a pretty good way to describe Lambrusco. When you pour the wine it immediately fizzes up with a delightful pinking-purple bubbly head, and then mellows down to semi-sparkling pretty quickly. When I smelled it, I picked up notes of tart cranberry and a hint of cinnamon. When I tasted the wine, it matched up pretty well to the smell. I got notes of the cranberry still, along with slightly not ripe yet red cherry, and rhubarb, and got a taste of star anise of the back end with the cinnamon, and just a touch of minerality. It's a very refreshing and almost tangy red wine. We paired it with pizza, and it was a fun pairing, very tasty. Lambrusco would also be a great pre-dinner wine with a cheese and charcuterie plate, sort of like an alternative to a sparkling rose.