‘Moscato is Piemonte’s signature white grape, responsible for sparkling Asti and, distinctively superior, fizzy Moscato d’Asti, the epitome of sweet Muscat grapes in its most celebratory form’.
This is the opinion about Moscato d’Asti held by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, which can be found in their great ‘World Atlas of Wine’ (2010, p. 160). Knowing this wine by myself, I can’t help but defer to their judgment.
Moscato grapes originate most probably from the Eastern parts of the Mediterranean region and were brought to Italy by the Venetian. Their cultivation in Northern Italy is mentioned in numerous documents from the XVI and XVII centuries and the particular affection which the Piedmontese show for them resulted in the proud name of Moscato berries in the region: Oro delle Langhe, that is, gold of Langhe (hilly area of Piedmont famous for its wines, cheese, truffles and sweets).
The very color of these grapes may indeed resemble gold, especially in the sun of early autumn. The wine is somehow golden too. It’s sweet and aromatic, and low in alcohol, reaching only 4,5-6,5%. I guess this is the combination that made it to one of the favorite wines of my grandma. She finds a glass of this nectar comforting, especially after Sunday meals, and every time she enjoys it her eyes are lighten like little girl’s ones. As if she did something delighting but forbidden, or had some secret unshared with anybody.
If only I don’t confuse books and authors, Roger Scruton wrote in his ‘I Drink Therefore I am: A Philosopher’s Guide to Wine’ that Moscato d’Asti is also the wine of choice for his old aunties from London’s suburbs.
But now I’m running the risk to present this product as suitable merely for palates of more experienced generations. Well, this is of course not true. Let’s stress the ‘more experienced’ and trust that our grandmas and aunt know what is good. Fizzy and sweet, Moscato smells like a bunch of wild flowers: robinia, thyme, linden, gillyflower, bird cherry, or catmint. Any further honey plant might complement the list, as Moscato smells of honey, fresh liquid honey.
If you wish to enjoy during a meal, Italian Wikipedia, quite an inerrable source of information considering the media freedom in the Bel Paese, says that in the United States Moscato d’Asti is frequently paired with Indian cuisine. I have no clue whether it’s true or not, but I like the idea. The opulent, low in alcohol but high in redolence wine seems to be the right company for spicy and rich food, which fragrant by itself would dominate light whites we pair with pasta or seafood. Worth trying out!