The first time I ever tasted Moscato d’Asti, it was after a long bike ride in the Asti hills during the heat of July. My fellow bikers and I were cooling off in a swimming pool, and my husband-to-be came around offering flutes of this frizzante wine. It smelled of fresh apricots and orange blossom, tasted of honeysuckle, and was light as a feather. So, despite the Piedmont tradition of serving moscato at winter holidays with panettone, that summertime scenario remains my Platonic Ideal for the best pairing with Moscato d’Asti: a swimming pool.
Last week, five Moscato d’Asti winemakers arrived in New York for a master class on this most delicious of Piedmont dessert wines: Luigi Coppo from Coppo, Marco Dogliotti from La Caudrina, Stefano Chiarlo from Michele Chiarlo, Gianpiero Scavino from Ceretto, and Andrea Costa from Marenco. As happens with these things, they drilled down into technical aspects—soils, harvest dates, vinification techniques, yada yada. But the takeaway for me was how appealing each and every Moscato d’Asti was. For those who think they don’t like dessert wine, think again.
Moscato d’Asti isn’t just for Christmas and Easter. Italians will mix it with ripe peaches or strawberries for a fruit cocktail. They’ll have it mid-afternoon with cookies instead of Orangina. They introduce their youngsters to wine with a few drops of this nectar. Andrea Costa of Marcenco showed me a video of his two-year-old daughter dipping her finger in a chalice, then hording the glass and insisting “mio!”—mine! “Though she’s smelled all the wines we make, she was never that interested—before this,” he said.
So when summer arrives, pick up a bottle from any of those five wineries for your picnic, for an aperitif when outside grilling, or for an unbeatable poolside pleasure.
Just remember that not all moscatos are created equal. You want the real deal from its birthplace in Piedmont, and that's Moscato d’Asti.
Want to know more? See my article in Tastes of Italia, “Sparkling Traditions: Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti”
Want to visit Piedmont with La Dolce Vita Wine Tours? Click here to see our 7 tour options in Piedmont.
Zabaglione with Moscato d’Asti, blackberries and currants
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Moscato d’Asti
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup fresh currants (or red raspberries)
There are many recipe variations on zabaglione. The traditional proportions are this: For each yolk, use half an eggshell full of sugar and half an eggshell full of wine.
In a round copper or glass bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar until obtaining a white and fluffy mixture. Add the Moscato d’Asti, and continue to whisk and cook over low heat in a bain-marie or double boiler without reaching the boiling point. Whisk until custard is warm, tripled in volume, and dragging the whisk across it leaves a ribbon on the surface, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve immediately, or whisk over an ice bath until cooled. Serve in a glass with whole blackberries and currants and garnish with mint leaves.