The Lambrusco varietal grape has been grown in and around its native region of Emilia, Italy for several thousand years, with archaeological evidence suggesting it was even cultivated by the ancient Etruscans, long before it was a favorite of the Romans. There are actually over sixty different types of Lambrusco grape, however, the most commonly grown varietal is Lambrusco Salamino â€“ the varietal used for the sparkling and slightly sweet strawberry tinted wine which is popular around the world. Although very much an Italian varietal, there are wineries elsewhere in the world which work with this grape, most notably in Australia where it is also used to make a sparkling wine. It can also be used to make a wonderful dry wine, in which the strawberry flavor comes through a little more powerfully, followed by a pleasantly bitter finish.
Tuscany has been producing fine wines for almost three thousand years, and as such is widely recognized as being one of the key Old World wine regions which have shaped the way we understand and enjoy quality wines throughout history. Interestingly, the region is typified by a unique soil type which is not particularly good for growing grapevines, but in Tuscany, the emphasis has always been on quality over quantity, and low yields with high levels of flavor and intensity are preferred, and have become a feature of the region's wine industry. The main grape varietals grown in Tuscany are Sangiovese for the distinctive, flavorful and complex red wines, and Vernaccia for the exquisite dry white wines, although the last couple of decades have seen more varietals grown and an increasing trend towards 'Bordeaux style' wines.
It isn't difficult to understand why Italy is famed not just for the quality of its wines, but also for the vast variety and range of characteristics found in the wines there. The terrain of the country varies wildly, from the lush rolling green hills and valley of Tuscany, to the sun drenched rocky coasts of Sicily, the mountainous and alpine regions of the north, and the marshy lowlands of the east. Italy really does have a little bit of everything. Combine this huge range of landscapes with an almost perfect climate for grape cultivation, and you have a country seemingly designed for viticultural excellence. The results speak for themselves, and it is clear to see that wine has become an inseparable part of Italian culture as a result of its abundance and brilliance. Each village, city and region has a local wine perfectly matched with the cuisine of the area, and not an evening passes without the vast majority of Italian families raising a glass of locally sourced wine with pride and pleasure.