Emilia-Romagna is very famous for two of Italy's greatest treasures, Reggiano Parmigiano (considered one, if not THE greatest cheese in the world) and Lambrusco. Unfortunately, the first wave of Lambrusco to come to the U.S. was very ordinary and a rather bland wine. It was slightly sweet and that's how most Americans saw it.
The Italians consider it one of their greatest wines and when you taste a "real" one like our Gioia, you'll be on board as well. The producer is Gualtieri, named after the town in which the winery resides and was founded in 1958. It is basically a co-op with 21 different growers contributing to its greater good. Their employee mix is half men and half women.
Lambrusco is not just one grape. There are several different versions within the varietal and they are not all created equal. As a matter of fact, tasting through the various incarnations makes you wonder how they all have the same name as the differences are that stark.
However, one stands out, the Lambrusco Salamino which accounts for nearly 90% of the plantings and is usually 90% of the blend. If you suffered through the 70s Lambrusco like we did, this wine is not just a surprise, but a revelation. The grapes are handpicked and sorted so that only the ripest are used. The intense black skin doesn't seem to compute with the light red color of the wine. But, once the sensation of refined, harmonious berry and spice take over, you are left speechless. Literally goes with anything.