Wait a Minute… Riunite is Nice?

Riunite is a cloyingly sweet fizzy red wine from Italy.  No serious wine enthusiast would drink it, right? Maybe you should challenge that assumption.  Interested? Read on!

Have you heard of the Real Lambrusco consortium, a group trying to reclaim the international reputation for dry Lambrusco?  As a kid, I remember hearing ads for “Riunite on Ice…That’s Nice!” Unfortunately, Americans now permanently associate all Lambrusco with Riunite, hence the need to rescue Lambrusco.

Lambrusco Secco DOC
Exploring the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, Lambrusco was on my list of wines to drink study. Lambrusco Secco DOC wine was a great find. Bright red fruit, dry, lightly sparkling.  It makes a great pairing with Prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano and other antipasti.  After trying several dry Lambrusco’s, they have earned a permanent spot in the wines we stock at our house.  When I think of sparkling wines, there are very few examples of quality sparkling reds, Lambrusco Secco fits that bill!

Lambrusco Secco - bright fruit, dry, frizzante

Lambrusco Secco – bright fruit, dry, frizzante

Lambrusco Amabile DOC
Artisan Lambrusco also comes in a semi-sweet version: Amabile.  A semi-sweet Lambrusco would be nice with spicy and salty snacks, and also would appeal to people who prefer a bit of sweetness in their wine. Wanting to try as many types of Lambrusco as possible, I also picked up a bottle of Amabile Lambrusco. As you see on the label below, it’s a DOC wine, with regulations in effect to assure the quality of the product. At less than $20 per bottle, a nice choice for some situations, and worth consideration with dessert.

Lambrusco Amabile adds a touch of sweetness

Lambrusco Amabile adds a touch of sweetness

Riunite Emilia IGT
Being something of a “prove it” kind of guy, I like to decide for myself.  I couldn’t resist the opportunity to actually try Riunite.  For $7, what’s to lose?

Simple, sweet and just a touch frizzante, not so bad.

Simple, sweet and just a touch frizzante, not so bad.

Is Riunite Nice?
After tasting Riunite for myself, what do I think?  Not so bad! Yes, it’s simple, “grapey” and a bit sweet.  Taste it against Lambrusco DOC Amabile, and you’ll know it’s the same grape, and you’ll see that you do get a nicer wine for just a bit more money. Still, I’d rather be served a glass of Riunite than many inexpensive American wines. Franzia, I’m talking to you! Yeah you too, Three Buck Chuck!

There’s more to the story.  Think back to the wine consumption in the US in the 70’s; gallon jugs of “Chablis” or “Burgundy”.  I remember my folks sometimes buying Mateus Rosé. Wine consumption in the US was in its infancy, can you blame the Mariani brothers for finding something that might be appealing to a broad audience?  The aim was to acquaint us with a nicer bottle of wine in hopes that we would continue on to finer, drier styles.  We may need to thank the Mariani brothers more than we thought.

For $7, the Riunite is drinkable. It's no DOC wine, but it's not bad.

For $7, the Riunite is drinkable. It’s no DOC wine, but it’s not bad.

More Riunite
But wait, there’s more to the story!  Do a little digging, and you’ll find that the overwhelming success of Riunite gave the Mariani family the capital to purchase land in Montalcino and establish their longtime dream: Castello Banfi.  According to John Mariani, they are the reason for the success of today’s Brunello di Montalcino.  Maybe, maybe not. I guess more drinking research is in order!

Here’s another good one, soap opera star Susan Lucci! Are you ready for some Riunite?

9 Responses to “Wait a Minute… Riunite is Nice?”
  1. I am happy to do my part in rescuing Lambrusco from its torrid past!

  2. I haven’t thought about Riunite in a decade. Maybe more.

  3. I’ve read so many articles lately about how great Lambrusco can be. It seems like it might be the next big thing to make a “comeback” in the US.

  4. O. Suarez says:

    I love the taste of Riunite Lambrusco!
    I greatly enjoy getting all the body benefits of red wine drinking while drinking Lambrusco and protecting my wallet.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] frizzante. Lambrusco is a great partner for charcuterie, so the bacon is a natural. Forget Riunite, dry Lambrusco is a different animal and always a surprise: sparkling, red, and […]

  2. […] Challenges Wine lovers in the US seem to be totally unaware of Lambrusco, thanks to a single word: Riunite. Riunite is a cloying sweet version of cheap Lambrusco. Thanks to great promotion, it was a huge […]

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