Emilia-Romagna, Wine+Food

Notes from Parma: What is quality Lambrusco?

Parma is VIOLETS. Aged hams, dark chocolate, profumo, the fizz of Lambrusco.

Violets became popular under Maria-Luiga, the Duchess of Parma and second wife of Napoleon, whose presence can be felt everywhere walking along the prosciutto-coloured streets.

The smell of violet has three distinct parts: candy-sweet, violet flower and violet leaf. In my opinion, this can be seen as the spectrum of quality of Lambrusco. The worst being confectionary and the best redolent of violet leaf. A good, refreshing Lambrusco has a violet leaf dryness with a violet fizz that immediately dissipates into an ecstasy of violet perfume.

After my last post, I had some rather strong reactions to my assertion there could even be a possibility of quality Lambrusco. Think of it this way. Rose was also once considered a sweet and cheap drink. Look at it today. Over the past 10 years it has become one of the most versatile and food-friendly wines on the menu.

What do you think? Can you recommend anything good? Or is Lambrusco a hopeless case?



  1. Lini 910 (although I am completely biased). I love REAL lambrusco and, you are right, just like Rose it will take time to show people that REAL lambrusco is the opposite of the sweetened junk churned out by the likes of Riunite. There is no better drink to accompany a plate of salami and prosciutto.

    • Juel Mahoney says

      I get the impression people don’t know where to go if they want a good Lambrusco – sadly, sometimes the only thing available is the cheap soft-drink stuff. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Gaetano Alfano says

    My first exposure to a real Lambrusco was at IL Tribunale Restaurant in Parma. I asked the waiter to bring us local food & local wine, a little surprised when he brought a Lambrusco to the table, but I didn’t question his choice. Once served my reservations were short lived. Amazing violet red in colour, on the palate an explosion of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, an extraordinary mousse that lined the top third of the glass. The colour so deep that I later discovered was due to the 28 days of skin contact. So impressed was I that the next day I went to the winery and ordered 2 pallets. Sadly the name Lambrusco is so stigmatised by the trash that has been sold in the UK for so many years that I struggled to sell it & they remained my first & last 2 pallets that I ever imported.

  3. Pingback: On Vinissima: Notes from Parma – What is quality Lambrusco? | Wine Woman & Song

  4. nick davies says

    I agree wholeheartedly with the comments about the real thing, I was lucky enough to try some a few years ago and found it delicious. I have returned for a week in Torino,Parma and Bologna and it still is wonderful,I also tried the Lambrusco in Il Tribunale restaurant in Parma and it is fantastic,also the Sorelle Picchi restaurant serve a wonderful Lambrusco(their own label) with wonderful culettello. In Bologna I also drank some in the Enoteca Italia with a selection of fantastic meats and cheeses,it was also fantastic, so it is obviously consistent.

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