Asti Secco could change the way we think about Italian sparkling wine

One of the most exciting things for me about the Moscato d’Asti media trip was the opportunity to drink Asti Secco, one of the two new designations in the Moscato d’Asti appellation.

And when I say drink, I mean just that.

I had already tasted a handful of Asti Secco wines at Vinitaly this year (Vinitaly is the Italian wine trade’s annual industry fair, held each year in Verona). But there is a huge difference between tasting a wine in a professional context like a trade fair and drinking a wine at dinner, pairing with different dishes, and trading notes about it with colleagues.
It was also interesting to drink it in different contexts. Unsurprisingly, it’s an ideal wine for the aperitif hour. And we started nearly every meal with Asti Secco. But it was also fantastic to taste it paired with first courses, especially rice dishes imho.

Piedmont is region where people generally drink red wine with everything — and by everything, I mean everything. But, man, the Asti Secco that was served, for example, with agnolotti al plin (also known as agnolotti del plin, a rectangular filled pasta that is stuffed generally with braised beef and then “pinched” around the edges, hence the name or so it is believed), was fantastic. I really liked how the freshness of the gently aromatic wine worked against the pure, primary flavors of the pasta and the delicious fattiness of the filling. It worked more as a counterpoint than a red would have and it was great. I really loved it.

The only disappointment was that it was the heart of winter in Piedmont and nearly every dish we were served was traditional Piedmontese winter fare. I love that kind of food as well and I was happy to be eating it (especially because it was super cold during our time on the ground there). But I would have loved to try Asti Secco with seafood, especially Mexican seafood (I know, I know, not only impossible in Piedmont but downright blasphemous!).

I also would have loved to try Asti Secco with dried, smoked, and otherwise cured fish. I still haven’t attempted this at home but Asti Secco and salty lox, I imagine, is going to be an unforgettable pairing.

Based on my experience during the trip, there’s no doubt in my mind that Asti Secco has immense potential to change the way we think about Italian sparkling wine.

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Jeremy Parzen
After obtaining his Ph.D. in Italian literature at U.C.L.A. in 1997, Jeremy Parzen moved to New York City where he shifted his focus to food and wine. By 1998, he was the chief wine writer for the English-language edition of La Cucina Italiana. In 2005, he published his annotated translation of Maestro Martino's 15th century cookery book, The Art of Cooking (University of California Press). In 2007, he launched his blog DoBianchi.com (named after the Venetian expression for two glasses of white wine). Since that time, he has published countless articles on Italian food and wine, including bylines for publications like Decanter and Wine and Spirits, which named him a "Master of Place" in 2017. Known for his humanist perspective onto the world of Italian enogastronomy, he works as wine and restaurant industry consultant from his home office in Houston, where he and his wife Tracie (a native Texan) are raising their two daughters. A former rock musician and songwriter, Jeremy continues to compose and record music with and for his family. He was honored to be named an Italian Association of Wine Merchants ambassador in 2018 for his "profound scholarship in the humanities, his great knowledge of winemaking, and his excellence in communications."

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