How to pair Moscato d’Asti

Moscato d’Asti is the world’s only sparkling wine that’s made using no refined sugar; only the grape’s natural sugar is used

In his celebrated collection of travel essays Vino al Vino (originally published in 1975, a follow-up to his food, wine, and travel television show), Mario Soldati pairs Moscato d’Asti with a rabbit stew he’s served by a Moscato d’Asti producer he visits. But even Soldati concedes that when he insisted on drinking Moscato d’Asti throughout the meal, he was doing it “in the face” of those who would frown upon such an unconventional pairing.
In Piedmont where Moscato d’Asti is grown and vinified, the locals are famous for drinking red wine almost exclusively. And the thought of pouring Moscato d’Asti with savory dishes would be downright heretical in their minds.

But across the world, we are seeing Moscato d’Asti being paired with an expanding field of foods, including international cuisines and savory dishes.
Traditionally, Moscato d’Asti is served with dessert. And to be precise, it’s canonically paired with pasticceria secca. That means literally dry pastries. But to give it more context, we could loosely translate it as cookies, in other words, pastries that are not stuffed with jelly, cream, or custard etc.
Because of its natural sweetness, Moscato d’Asti is one of the few wines in the world that pairs well with dessert. (As we wrote previously, Moscato d’Asti is the world’s only sparkling wine that’s made using no refined sugar; only the grape’s natural sugar is used). But it’s also a great wine for pairing with fresh fruit, another notoriously difficult food to pair wine with.

Made from the highly aromatic Moscato Bianco grape, Moscato d’Asti abounds with fresh fruit aromas and flavors, mostly stone and tropical fruit. And as such, it works extremely well with fresh fruit or fruit salad.

Sometimes in Piedmont, it also used to be served at breakfast (no kidding). Some of the old folks will tell you that when they were children, they would sweeten their morning steamed milk with some cookies or lady fingers and a shot of Moscato d’Asti. Of course, the alcohol in Moscato d’Asti is extremely low and the heat of the steamed milk causes the alcohol to evaporate right way. So there wasn’t any risk of inebriation.

These are some of the traditional ways that Moscato d’Asti is paired. In next week’s post, we’ll take a look at the way Moscato d’Asti is paired creatively and how it’s paired with world cuisines and in different countries.

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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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