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.

Best for Less: Sparkling Wines for New Years


Have you ever heard of I hadn’t until a few weeks ago when I was contacted by one of their representatives about their findings for the best cheap champagnes. Of course, a true Champagne (from the right grape and region of France) is seldom if ever to be found “cheap,” but you can find plenty of lovely sparkling wines (the larger category that Champagne belongs to) in any price range.

Their suggestions?

Experts note that not all sparkling wines pass as a substitute Champagne, and champagne reviews discuss factors such as bubbles, sweetness, and taste. Topping Cheapism’s list of best champagne buys are Roederer Estate NV Brut, Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut NV, and Freixenet Cordon Negro Extra Dry — all priced at less than $20.

And if you try any of them to ring in the New Year, please let me know.

our sparkling wine choices for 2011Todd and I prefer our sparkling wines on the sweeter side, so those Brut recommendations just don’t do much for us. We rang in 2011 with a couple of inexpensive Italian sparkling wines on the sweeter side: one white and one red.

Wait, red sparkling wine? Oh yes, my friends, it’s out there and it’s fabulous!

The red is Costarosa Sangue di Giuda Oltrepo Pavese and is, as best I can tell as the label is 100% in Italian, a blended red wine with just enough bubbles to keep things interesting. It was recommended by the guy in the liquor store when I said I wanted anything but Brut. Good call.

The white is Ca’D’Gal Lumine Moscato d’Asti. Moscato is very popular these days as more are discovering this sweet wine in both still and sparkling styles. I think Moscato is doing quite a lot to dispel the negative opinions many people have of champagne. And we just a bottle of Cupcake M0scato d’Asti with Thanksgiving dinner that was pretty fabulous, too.

And sweet champagne is nothing new–in Europe it’s always been available but not a lot made it to the United States as our palates were, somehow, not interested in sweet wines.

Thank goodness times have changed!

We haven’t decided, yet, what we’ll be sipping when ’11 turns to ’12, what about you?