Learn About Lambrusco: Sparkling White Wine's Mysterious Cousin

With an alcohol content in the low- to mid-range, Lambrusco is a refreshing happy hour option.

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Lambrusco is a delicious sparkling Italian wine made from grapes that share its name, and it hails from Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, just north of Tuscany. It's actually one of the oldest wines in Northern Italy: Lambrusco grapes have been harvested and fermented since the Bronze Age, many millennia before Cabernet Sauvignon was first bottled. Although it has been produced in white and rosé wine styles, Lambrusco is most famous for its deep red varieties. We spoke to an expert wine curator to learn more about Lambrusco's alcohol content, taste, price, and more.


"I consider Lambrusco the mysterious cousin to classic white sparkling wines, like Prosecco," says Christopher Hoel, the founder of Harper's Club and expert wine curator for Wine Insiders and Martha Stewart Wine Co. "You can find Lambrusco varieties with a range of sweetness, but I like to keep it dry." Also, he notes that Lambruscos are meant to be consumed young, so pay close attention to the year on your bottle to ensure freshness.

Alcohol Content

Because it's less effervescent and lower in alcohol content than its bubbly counterparts, Lambrusco is the perfect wine for day drinking, a la rosé. Lambrusco's alcohol content can range from 8% to 13% ABV, depending on the bottle. Most Prosecco and Champagne bottles have about 12 to 13% ABV.


Flavor notes vary greatly by style, but common aromas in Lambrusco include cherry, blackberry, violet, and rhubarb. Lambrusco's light effervescence calls back to the warm, lazy days of summer, and its ripe red berry flavor (and color) embraces the coziness of fall. Because it's fizzy, acidic, and well-balanced, Lambrusco can cleanse the palate just as well as it's able to pair with robust dishes, like beef and root vegetable stew, roast lamb, butternut squash, and more.

Price Point

Another perk of Lambrusco is its price. The process of making Lambrusco is similar to that of Prosecco: The grapes are fermented in a large tank with added yeast. This differs from Champagne, which is fermented in individual bottles. "While the 'traditional' method is certainly more prestigious than the 'tank' method, the resulting wines have a crisper, cleaner taste and are less expensive," says Hoel. You can typically get a good bottle of Lambrusco for around $15.


Lambrusco pairs beautifully with foods from its home country: The fizziness, acidity, and berry flavor lighten up the hearty dishes of the Emilia-Romagna region. Pair it with cured meats like artisan-crafted salumi or thinly sliced prosciutto, hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, olives, bread dipped in quality balsamic vinegar, and classic Northern Italian pasta (lasagna, tagliatelle, and tortellini). If you're not feeling the Italian vibe, Lambrusco is a versatile wine that pairs well with numerous other cuisines, especially those that feature grilled meats. Try it with a burger, a chicken salad, sausages, or other lightly spiced foods.

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