Meet the Whites: Moscato


Moscato d'Asti

A couple New Years’ ago I walked into our local ABC Liquors and asked for something sparkling that wasn’t Brut. The very helpful clerk brought me back to the Italian imports section and pointed out several possible wines, one of which was a Moscato d’Asti, with which we happily rung in the new year. Since then it’s gone from the back of the store to boxes in the aisles of Wal-Mart, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be dismissed out of hand.

It’s like the elephant in the room, these days: Moscato has become a major player in accessible wine, even rappers think so.

Really? Drake and Diddy love it, so now it’s credible? At least that’s how NPR seemed to spin it/suggest back in January. *shudder*

Without sounding overly-hipster about it (because I am nothing like a hipster in any other sense), that last bit is almost enough to make me stop drinking it. Almost, but not quite.

Originally a dessert wine, Moscato has become much more mainstream. A favorite among bloggers (or maybe just well-marketed), and it’s even gotten my sister-in-law to try wine, so as a gateway white I’ll gladly accept it over the White Zinfandel that used to hold the title.

We’ve never been wine snobs, here, and always love a bargain. Sideways meant our beloved Pinot Noir was easier to find,  and the same goes for Moscato and it’s pop-culture love affair.

Since it IS sweet, it’s a perfect pairing for desserts, but also goes well with rich cream sauces, citrus and even spicy dishes, too. While I prefer to sip it over the course of an evening, cooking is another option to use up any leftovers. I probably wouldn’t put it in my risotto if I had another option (though I’ve used sweet wines in risotto before, with some interesting results), but a splash into a dessert sauce or as a vinaigrette with olive oil and lemon, I think that could be very nice.

And just so you know, that very affordable Bella Bole’ Moscato d’Asti goes fabulously with Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. I assure you, it was a very thorough investigation.

Meet the Whites: Riesling


Lucky Duck Riesling
Now we’re into the fun wines!

Okay, they’re all fun (when applied liberally) but the sweet wines are lovely in their own right: they go well with desserts!

And dessert is often my favorite meal of the day.

There’s more to Riesling than just a dessert wine, though, the varietal can be used in everything from the driest of dries to the sweetest of sweets–this grape’s got range!

The later the harvest, the sweeter the Riesling, and you wouldn’t think so at first but the super-sweet dessert variety is helped by a virus! Botrytis Cinerea (aka “noble rot”) is a type of mold that collects on the outside of grapes exposed to warmth and humidity in Fall. While this would normally be horrific, the mold doesn’t actually rot the grapes (well, in the good cases) but it causes them to shrivel on the vine a bit, concentrating the sugar-power inside!

Think about how much sweeter a raisin is compared to a grape an you’re on the right track.

Fruity and flowery, the nose of a Riesling should be pleasant and Spring-y. They are an excellent choice for a picnic lunch–light and fruity–and a great dessert on their own as the lower alcohol means fewer calories without sacrificing your sweet tooth (90 calories for a 4 oz serving). It’s a great pairing for salads, fruits, cheeses, or even a decadent creme brulee.

This week’s wine was one of those why-the-heck-not purchases. I didn’t have a Riesling on the shelf at home and I didn’t feel like making another stop that day (I might have been a lot tired and a little cranky), so I swung into the wine aisle at Wal-Mart while picking up the rest of the week’s groceries.

Lucky Duck Riesling has 2 strikes against it if you listen to the “experts”:

  • The price: It’s a whopping $3.47 or some such
  • The animal on the label: The pro’s have something against animal-wines.

That said, one of my favorite Pinot Noirs has monkeys on the label and is 6.99 at World Market, so I take that advice with a grain of salt.

Reviews of Lucky Duck were mixed. I got none of the “metallic” taste (but, then, I gave it some time to come out of the fridge and waiting a moment or three before sipping it) that others have noted and I liked that it was sweet without being syrupy-sweet. This is a little on the drier side, but not in a bad way if you ask me.

And, well, you might not have asked me, but you are reading this, so it’s sorta the same thing.