Moscato d’Asti, its origins and its future, represent an unexplored frontier in the ongoing Italian wine renaissance.
A few decades ago, you could hand my now 85-year-old mother a glass of Prosecco and she would say, “Oh, Champagne? Thank you!”
Today, you can hand my mom a glass of Champagne and her answer is inverted: “Oh, Prosecco? Thank you!”
The arc of that shift is even more remarkable when you consider that 40+ years ago the only sparkling wine my middle-class, Midwestern, Jewish parents ever tasted was Moscato d’Asti.
At the time, they thought it was Champagne. Actually, they didn’t really think much about it. They didn’t even know where or what Champagne was. And wine, let alone sparkling wine, wasn’t even a second thought to them. It came in third place at best. All they knew was that sparkling wine was called “Champagne,” it was always served in a coupe, it was always sweet, and it was only served on special and celebratory occasions. As surprising as it may seem to some today, save for the very occasional red, the only wine they ever drank was sparkling. And like most bourgeois Jews in America at the time, they drank Moscato d’Asti almost exclusively (on New Year’s Eve and at weddings, since they “didn’t really drink”).
Moscato d’Asti is one of the most popular wines in America today. And its popularity has only grown since my parents’ day.
But it’s also one of the most misunderstood wines in America.
Known nearly ubiquitously as Moscato (unassociated with place), it can be found in nearly every American city and nearly every American small town. But in an ever more robust and expanding fine wine community in the U.S., hipster-coastal sommeliers hardly know its gradations or traditions.
When the Consorzio Asti Docg contacted me about contributing to their new blog, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Moscato d’Asti, its origins and its future, represent an unexplored frontier in the ongoing Italian wine renaissance. And I’m looking forward to raising awareness of why, what, and where Moscato d’Asti is. I hope you’ll join me along the way. I bet it will be fun.