It is difficult to determine which came first, Modenese cuisine in the traditional, consolidated form that it has been handed down to us today, or Lambrusco wine. According to the few historical references available today, one can, however, deduce a parallel development, because Lambrusco managed to establish itself at the expense of all the others as the primary wine produced in the Modena area, largely replacing the competition and coming to be recognized as the wine of Modena par excellence, thanks to its unparalleled ability to be combined felicitously with the local dishes.
The “elective affinities” between Lambrusco and the various expression of the Modenese culinary art and, more generally, the typical traditional cuisine enjoyed throughout Emilia, are among the most valid and successful in Italy; indeed this marriage of flavors is a real prize winner, even according to the more demanding criteria adopted today by modern sommeliers.
These amazing affinities are based primarily on “contrasting” combinations, in which the flavor and other characteristics of the food are complemented by those of the wine. Most generally this means hearty, rich, caloric foods being accompanied by a wine known for its elevated freshness and acidity, reinforced by a hallmark sparkling or “spumante” brio, a nectar imbued with only moderate alcoholic tenor, but nevertheless “tonic” in nature, due to the presence of tannin (after all, it’s a red wine!), and very conducive to healthy digestion.
Of course, there are also some combinations based on “similarities”, for example, a sweet Lambrusco with dessert dishes, although these relationships are more precisely based on “harmony and contrast” together.
Indeed, even the sweeter versions of Lambrusco always manage to maintain the typical freshness, acidity and vivacity that tend to “enhance” the flavor of any food.
Leafing through an imaginary menu, we begin with the antipasto: slced dressed pork meats and sausages in general, featuring the mouth-watering prosciutto hams and mortadellas, but also including the original Parmisan, justifiably called the "king" of all cheeses. We then pass on to the first courses, with the divine "tortellini" in clear broth and other types of stuffed pasta, or maccheroni "al pettine" (with ridges made by hand, using a special comb-like utensil). The delicious second courses abound in all forms of boiled meats, starting with pig’s feet and spiced pork sausages, served with a side-dish of stewed lentils or beans. Finally come the desserts, ranging from the rustic, homestyle Modenese cake, to the more refined "amaretto", a soft macaroon made from a special paste of sweet and bitter almonds.
The culinary triumph is presided over by one lord and master, the element that unites all these gloriously diversified specialities. For DOP Lambruscos are able to adapt to and exalt even the most subtle variations in flavour and ingredients of the single dishes.
But it would be a mistake to confine the sphere of DOP Lambrusco to the cuisine of Modena and Emilia alone. It would be limiting ourselves to the obvious, whereas the honest exuberance, and lively character of this wine can be enjoyed whenever a light drink is called for. It is able to play throughout the field, adapting magnificently to both traditional and more innovative dishes. One could say it is the luckiest of all wines, for it possesses all the positive attributes of wine and none of the negative ones: refreshing, bracing, with the right degree of tannin, it is easy to digest thanks to a moderate alcohol content. It is plaesing, but never too demanding – a staightforward, no-problem wine. It is best when young and needs no particular additions to be savoured to the full.
Without doubt, the most daring suggestion, but one with good results and great prospects, is that Lambrusco be drunk with the archetypal Italian food: pizza. Why shouldn’t Italy’s most famous wine be drunk with its most famous food? What better way to consolidate the happy unoin between north and south. Especially with pizzas made from many ingredients, such as the "Four Seasouns", or the exellent "white pizza" with bacon and rocket: nothing could surpass a red, bubbly DOC Lambrusco, so able to exalt the taste of each ingredient, aid digestion and refresh the palate in preparation for the next course!
With just the right amount of tannin that is a pleasure to drink D.O.P. Lambrusco inspires one to try it with the widest variety of foods, daring to create unorthodox and unusual combinations: the unexpected results will surprise everyone, from the most impassioned gourmets to people who are simply eager to explore the fragrance and flavor delights of this inimitable wine.
And for these reasons Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro and Lambrusco di Modena have all been awarded the D.O.P. Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin).