How to taste Moscato d’Asti

The best expressions of Moscato d’Asti (like nearly any sparkling wine) will deliver the symmetry — the promise (nose) and fulfillment (mouth) — that professional tasters look for in sparkling wine

Over the last few weeks we’ve posted about Moscato d’Asti and the unique method employed by winemakers to produce it. We’ve also posted about why its unusual production method is key to creating its distinctive aromas and flavors. And last week we posted on what classic Moscato d’Asti tastes like.
So this week we wanted to take moment to talk about how to taste Moscato d’Asti. It’s not hard to taste wine. In fact, it’s one of great pleasures of life in food and wine. But wine tasting is actually very difficult. It takes years, decades really, to master the art and science of wine tasting. And when it comes to sparkling wine, it becomes even more challenging. That’s because sparkling wine is arguably the most complex in terms of its balance between fruit, floral, herbal, and mineral flavors.
The best advice anyone ever gave me about approaching a sparkling wine tasting was this: As you look at, smell, taste, and feel the wine in your mouth, ask yourself whether or the “mouth” (flavor, weight, and texture) of the wine delivers on the promise of the “nose” (aroma and freshness).

 

Whenever I taste sparkling wine, I employ this nugget of wisdom.

What are the notes on the nose of the wine? What are the notes on the mouth of the wine? And how are they related, unrelated, aligned, or unaligned, and how do they interact together?

When the nose of the wine is bright and fresh and rich with stone fruit flavors but the mouth is dull and stale and lacking fruit, for example, there’s something not right about the wine. I’m exaggerating to make a point, of course. But the best expressions of Moscato d’Asti (like nearly any sparkling wine) will deliver the symmetry — the promise (nose) and fulfillment (mouth) — that professional tasters look for in sparkling wine.
The other fundamental thing we need to look when tasting Moscato d’Asti is the balance of its fruit flavors and sweetness. But that will have to wait until next week’s post.

Previous articleMoscato’s Liquid Texture
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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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