Lambrusco is a brightly colored grape variety used to make sparkling red wines in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy. More accurately, it is a collective term for a group of grape varieties (much like Muscat) – more than 60 Lambrusco varieties have been identified so far.
Lambrusco vines are grown in several Italian wine regions, including Piemonte (Emilia-Romagnas neighbor) and farther afield in Basilicata.
Lambrusco and its eponymous wine have a high profile in the early 21st Century, largely the result of mass production for major markets in the 1980s, particularly the United States and northern Europe.
The days when Lambrusco wines were widely bottle-fermented in the methode traditionelle have gone, as has much of the quality and care that accompanied this more demanding production technique. Today, most wines bearing the Lambrusco name are made in bulk, and go through their secondary fermentation in large steel tanks.
This is known as the Charmat (or tank) method, pioneered in northern Italy and also used in the production of Prosecco. The popularity of Lambrusco grew so rapidly in the 1980s that this was the only way of producing the required volumes quickly enough to satisfy demand and cheaply enough to keep the wines affordable.