Emilia-Romagna is one of the wealthiest regions in Italy and in all of Europe. It is a cultural nexus, thanks to the beautiful Romanesque and Renaissance architecture found in the cities of Bologna, Ferrara and Modena. The Rimini and Riccione beach resorts of the Adriatic are famous among the sun-worshipping crowd, and this region is the epicenter for Italian automotive inspiration, engineering and design. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati all call Emilia-Romagna home.
Emilia-Romagna is also a heavy weight when it comes to wine production. There are more than 123,000 ac/50,000 ha under vine, representing 8% of Italy’s total vineyard area. An average of 6 million hectoliters of wine is made here each and every year, which equates to 10% of Italy’s total wine production. The large and fertile plains flanking the Po River in the north of Emilia-Romagna have been heavily farmed for millennia, and the grapevine has been a principal crop with a long-standing focus on quantity.
The region has been (and still is) a major supplier of every-day wines for the Italian table. In the past, the combination of large cooperatives, fertile land and high yields solidified Emilia-Romagna’s image as a producer of easy-drinking, uncomplicated and affordable wines. Its claim to fame during the 1970s and 1980s was Lambrusco, an undistinguished, sweet and slightly effervescent red that was specifically crafted to suit sugar-loving export markets. What was sent abroad was nothing like what was drunk in Italy, but that fact became an historical footnote. The international popularity of sweet Lambrusco was a double-edged sword. It brought wealth and prosperity yet also cemented Emilia-Romagna’s image as a mass-producer of uninspiring wines.
Things changed at the end of the 20th century. An increasing number of small, quality-minded estates have emerged, particularly in the Lambrusco district and in the hills of Piacenza, Bologna and Romagna. There is a new winegrowing scene that is dynamic and energetic—winemakers are working tirelessly to produce expressive wines that showcase the region’s diverse terroirs and native grapes. As a result, Emilia-Romagna’s reputation for quality wine is not only growing, but has actually developed a strong following…especially among Italians.
There is (arguably) no other region in Italy where its people are as slavishly devoted to food as in Emilia-Romagna. Its food culture is considered one of the best in the country (by Italians themselves!). This is the land of Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena and unique pastas like tortellini. The local gastronomy is rich and based on cheese, cream, butter, and cured meats. The pasta sauces are meat-based. Emilia-Romagna’s wine renaissance has been a welcome addition to a local table that is already richly bedecked.
Typical local dish of Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Cappellacci
The text above is a sample of the Italian Wine Scholar Manual written by Maurizio Broggi, Wine Scholar Guild's Education Director for Italy. Creator of the Italian Wine Scholar study & certification program
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