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let’s call a spade a spade

In this is juice not a house down payment on October 10, 2012 at 1:30 am

Expensive lambrusco is the biggest scam ever propagated on American drinkers.

Yea, I said it.

Lambrusco, it seems, is cool again. Or cool, for once. How did that happen, and who are the fucktards shelling out at least twenty bucks for a bottle?

Much like handlebar mustaches, lambrusco is no longer the butt of the joke. Instead, it has been embraced by the hip and young, a revival which has led to an unfortunate distortion of this favourite fizzy drink of Emilia-Romagna. Its ubiquity has become offensive, and I’m calling shenanigans.

Every region in Italy (you needn’t wikipedia this – there are twenty) produces wine. Very few other countries can say that about themselves, and that’s pretty fucking cool.

But that doesn’t mean that every region produces great wine. The Po River Valley dominates Emilia-Romagna, making it better suited for agriculture rather than viticulture. Imagine Iowa famers offering you their local bubbles. Sure, you’d take it, taste it, and maybe drink it on a warm day – but you’d laugh in their faces if they charged you more than a nickel for it.

I’m waxing hyperbolic. But you get the point.

Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine. Sparkling may be a bit generous. Let’s call it “effervescent.” Forget the sweet shit your parents guzzled in college- lambrusco these days is generally crisp, dry, and refreshing. It’s a drink that doesn’t ask anything of you, so why do you ask anything of it? It’s not nebbiolo, and it’s never going to nebbiolo. So love it for what it is. Drink it as it’s meant to be drunk. It’s entirely glug-glugable, which is more than okay: it’s fucking fantastic.

And there’s the rub.

Most Americans would rather guzzle brewskies than sparkling Italian red wine.

Lambrusco is one of those context-specific wines. If you’re not on vacation and it’s not over eighty degrees, would you opt for rosé? Probably not.

Lambrusco has similarly restricted parameters within which it can be enjoyed. Of course, well-made (and dare I say interesting?) lambrusco and rosé are to be found. But I’m talking about the run-of-the-mill shit that somehow passes as refined or complex. Most lambrusco doesn’t even offer a bouquet of red fruits and [fill in the blank.] It smells grapey and slightly stinky, and upon inspection is likely to cause the same expression that a five year old has when he smells his grandfather’s prune juice.

Instead, lambrusco is eminently quaffable and pairs exceptionally well with the best of salty snacks (prosciutto and parmigiano reggiano, I’m looking at you.) It’s the sort of drink – and likely the only one – that you can legitimately drink whilst clutching the wine glass by the bowl. Fuck the stem. Drink it out of the bottle for all I care. That’s how it’s supposed to be enjoyed– like water, but a hell of a lot more fun.

Unfortunately that sort of “conspicuous” wine drinking is frowned upon in the States. Yes, you can import the wine, but you can’t import the (ostensibly) carefree lifestyle in which the wine is meant to be drunk. Instead, expensive lambrusco is not only allowed but accepted. Sure, import duties and restaurant mark-ups are a bitch. But the real culprit is the warped mentality of the average New Yorker who expects to pay at least ten dollars for a glass of Italian wine.

If my reasoning has failed to convince you, then consider this:

Not even Italians take lambrusco seriously, and they elected Berlusconi.