Looking for Moscato d’Asti in all the wrong places

ideal pairing

I’m certainly not the only American wine professional who thinks Moscato d’Asti is an ideal pairing for the heat and wide range of flavors you find in Mexican cuisine.

As we wrote in our last post, “if the first commandment of successful winemaking is make good wine. Then the second should be: Know thy consumer!” That nugget of advice continues to ring true as I search the internets for examples of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants where Moscato d’Asti is served by-the-glass.

I’ve written before about how I think that Moscato d’Asti is an ideal pairing for the heat and wide range of flavors you find in classic Mexican, regional Mexican, and Tex-Mex cuisines.

I’m certainly not the only American wine professional who thinks that way.

When asked about her top pairings for Mexican food a few years ago, popular Boston-based sommelier and wine professional Lauren Daddona (née Collins) had this to say about the match: “When pairing with Mexican, I like to first think about the sauce and accompaniments. When dealing with a dish with a lot of spice, I’d look for something with a bit of sweetness. German riesling works, but I love to change it up and give people Moscato d’Asti. Things with bubbles are fun and well-made Moscato is a real treat!

She goes on to list a couple of top Moscato d’Asti picks (from classic legacy producers).
It only took a few minutes of googling to find scores of Mexican restaurants across the United States that feature a Moscato d’Asti by-the-glass (like this one and this one, just to cite two examples; there are literally countless others).

It struck me how in nearly every example I discovered, Moscato d’Asti is the only by-the-glass selection that is associated with its appellation (Asti) on these lists. Otherwise, it’s Cabernet [Sauvignon], Merlot, Chardonnay, and maybe Sauvignon Blanc. And they are simply listed by grape variety — not by place or appellation.

It occurred to me: When Moscato d’Asti producers travel in the U.S. market selling and promoting their wines, they always hit the usual Italian suspects in every city and might make time for a steakhouse or two (and maybe even a strip club, one of the most likely places you’ll find overpriced Moscato d’Asti).

But why aren’t they visiting and interacting with owners and buyers at Mexican restaurants? So much of their wine is sold there but they hardly even scratch the surface when it comes to this lucrative category.

Moscato d’Asti producers: Know thy consumer!

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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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