During the 70s and 80s, it was the biggest selling wine import in the States. It has since gone out of style because of its sweeter nature. However, its sweetness does vary and apparently it's making a comeback, so keep an eye out for it.
My first encounter with Lambrusco happened by chance. In June 2007, I visited Las Vegas with my family. A month before my wedding, Vegas was close enough for a short weekend away, our last family vacation all together (odd in hind sight since we're definitely not a 'Vegas' family). We stayed at The Venetian and never left its complex due to the 115 degree weather. At dinner in St. Mark's Square our first night, I ordered a glass of sparkling wine from the menu. I wasn't familiar with any of the names, but I wanted bubbles.
The waiter presented me with the dark bubbly and I was spellbound. How exciting, something new! It was fizzy, slightly sweet, and rich with berry flavor. I loved it!
Ever since I have kept my eye open for Lambrusco almost everywhere I go. During the NYC portion of our honeymoon, we found and ordered a bottle at a Venetian Italian restaurant. Lambrusco is so little known that the sommelier came to double-check with us; he wanted to be sure we knew what we were ordering!
My Whole Foods carries this bottle of Lambrusco, reasonably priced at $10.
I buy it periodically when I crave some red bubbly, but I must admit to you that this is not the best one I've tasted. This bottle is just a tad too sweet and not as frothy as I like. It's so pleasant that it's almost like juice and I could easily drink the whole bottle before realizing and becoming quite drunk.
I hope, with a return in popularity, there will be more options in the future. In the meantime I continue to check my local stores and wine bars for its appearance.