One of the sommelier’s biggest challenges in preparing a tasting flight and menu is the wine pairing with fresh or cooked fruit.
Fruit is sweet. It contains unrefined sugar, to various degrees depending on the type and ripeness of the fruit. And sweetness (sugar) is — for lack of a better word — wine’s enemy.
Why is that?
It’s because wine also has sugar in it. After all, wine is made from fruit — the grape. The driest wines in the world always have some sugar in them. Maybe it’s just 1-2 grams, or even less, of what we call residual sugar in the wine trade. But it’s there. And of course, the quality and enjoyability of the wine is gauged in part on the balance between the wine’s components: Alcohol, acidity, dry extract, and residual sugar.
(If you’re reading this blog you probably already know that fermentation is the process of yeast transforming sugar into alcohol; the resulting balance between the wine’s components is what makes each and every wine compelling — more or less — to drink).
Back when I was living in New York City and was just getting started in the wine business, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who taught me to pair fresh and cooked fruit with Moscato d’Asti. I can tell you from personal experience that the match always worked brilliantly.
Moscato d’Asti should always be a fresh and refreshing wine — on the nose and in the mouth. And that character works in tandem with the aromas and flavors of fruit. Moscato d’Asti is a sweet wine, with a lot of residual sugar. As a result, it’s never overwhelmed by the sweetness of the fruit.
Moscato d’Asti is EXTREMELY low in alcohol. And that’s one of the most interesting things about the wine pairing. Fruit is nearly always served at the end of the meal, when you generally don’t want a heavy wine. And the light alcohol doesn’t ever overwhelm the flavors of the fruit.
Quod erat demonstrandum!