Creative pairings

Creative pairings for Moscato d’Asti are increasingly common (and that’s good news!)

Last week, we took a look at how Moscato d’Asti is traditionally paired with food in Italy. Moscato d’Asti was conceived and born in Italy. And so it’s only natural that we should look to its spiritual homeland for a roadmap or model for how to pair it (as the saying goes, if it grows with it, it goes with it).
But like all wines, Moscato d’Asti takes on a whole new life once it leaves its land of origins. This, of course, isn’t uncommon among the great wines of the world. Porto and Marsala are among the most famous wines, historically, that have been created exclusively for the export market. Similarly, Sherry and Madeira are not consumed at home where they are produced but they have enjoyed remarkable success — even today — once they travel beyond their native borders.
I’d argue that Moscato d’Asti, even thought it is regularly consumed across Italy, has its place in the pantheon of the great “international” wines of the world. And like all the greats, it’s often “interpreted” and “applied” in a manner different than initially intended.
In the United States, for example (the country that interests me most, since I live and work here), Moscato d’Asti is often served as cocktail wine, in other words, it’s served on its own, before dinner, without food. Historically, Moscato d’Asti was often served like this in North America. My parents, both in their 80s now, used to serve it on special occasions in the place of Champagne. And it would be offered to guests in a coupe (not a flute).

But it’s also served as a cocktail wine in bars and nightclubs across the country (we’ll do a post about that down the road).

Many Americans, especially in the southeastern U.S., also serve it to go with a savory meal. In the south, sweet tea is the classic pairing for many local dishes, included smoked meats and fried fish and fried chicken and beef (chicken fried steak, for example). And so it’s only natural that they would serve Moscato d’Asti as a mealtime wine because of its natural sweetness (as we’ve written before, Moscato d’Asti is one of only a handful of sparkling wines in the world for which only the grape’s natural sugar is used).

Next week, we’ll take a look at some of the potential unconventional pairings for Moscato d’Asti, including numerous world cuisines.

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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 (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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