I love your undemanding effervescence, your fresh, charming yet captivating perfume – mmm, elderflowers, grapes, peach blossom.
Well go on then, another glass . . .
1. Nothing else goes better with breakfast on a Sunday morning
This is especially true if your Saturday night was a little “large” – the gentle bubbles and fresh sweetness will invigorate and coax you back to life.
2. Bang for buck, it’s hard to beat
Moscato d’Asti’s extremely low alcohol (4.5-7.5%) helps it evade the worst excesses of our tax and duty laws. Combine that with a definite lack of scarcity (some 100m bottles a year roll out of the region), and it’s always going to be affordable – £7 is all you need to spend.
3. A wine that really tastes of grapes
Moscato (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, to be specific about Asti’s sub-variety) is perhaps the only grape that really has a strong grapey aroma and flavour. Good Moscato d’Asti should have exuberant grapiness, as part of its fresh, floral and sometimes honeyed character.
4. Forget Tuscany – Asti’s vineyards are a bucolic heaven
Asti might be a relatively mass produced wine, but the grapes must be grown on hills at reasonable altitude – typically between 200-500m. The vineyards form a picturesque patchwork quilt, as they coincide with each other at unlikely angles.
5. It’s not something you have to take seriously
Even though Moscato d’Asti has Italy’s highest quality wine categorisation (DOCG), it can safely be enjoyed as (or provide an accompaniment to) unabandoned frivolity.
6. But it’s not all mass-produced froth.
Try La Spinetta’s Moscato Bricco Quaglia 2012 for a supremely elegant, mineral example (available in the UK from Roberson) or the almost herby, honeyed Ca’ ed Balos Moscato d’Asti 2012 (Available in the US and Italy but not the UK).
7. You will love me for writing this
The great (if slightly bonkers) Tim Hanni MW bemoans the fact that wine experts often ridicule those who only like sweet wines. At this year’s Digital Wine Communications Conference, he proffered “if someone starts writing about sweet wines, and fills the gap for all those people who thought wine was not for them, they deserve to become a rock star”.
I will therefore now shoot to fame overnight. Thank you Tim.
Note: there are 3 confusingly similar classifications for Moscato produced in Piedmont. “Asti” is the most basic quality, produced as a “spumante” with a champagne cork and between 7-9% alcohol. “Moscato d’Asti” (which I refer to in this article) is sweeter and softer, being just “frizzante” and with only 4.5 – 7.5% alcohol permitted (the fermentation is interrupted, and the wine chilled and filtered earlier, to achieve this).
Finally, there is “Moscato d’Asti Canelli”, something like a grand cru of Asti and only made in or around the village of Canelli. To be frank, when I tasted a selection of 20 or so examples in July 2013, I struggled to pick out the supposedly higher quality in the Canelli wines.
All the examples I reference in the article were 2012s. But this isn’t a wine that has massive vintage variation, and it’s made for drinking very young. So no need to get cut up on the vintage.