Asti Spumante: Sparkling Wine 101 Guide
Parents & Origin: Piedmont, Italy Grape: Moscato Bianco Flavors: Peach, Pear, Honeysuckle Notable Regions: Cuneo, Asti, Alessandria Provinces Sweetness: Sweet Body: Light Tannins: Light Acidity: Medium ABV: 7% - 9%
Asti Spumante is for sweet, sparkling wine lovers. When opening a bottle of this wine, you’ll be greeted with creamy bubbles and aromas of pear, honeysuckle, and peaches. This wine is a natural pairing with sweet dessert items and chocolate, too.
The History of Asti Spumante
The Moscato grape used in Asti Spumante production is the oldest grape varietal in the world. Most would describe these grapes as having the most “grape-flavored” aromas, meaning high natural sugars and stone fruit flavors of peach and apricot.
As a perennial grape, it is widely grown but is most famous in northern Italy. This grape varietal originates from Piedmont, and many believe it’s been a staple in the region for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Yet, the production of sparkling Asti Spumante wines with Moscato varietals is a relatively new product from Italy.
The word “spumante” means “sparkling wine” in Italian, meaning Asti Spumante is a more specific name that also includes the region. While spumante does mean sparkling wine, it doesn’t indicate the sweetness level of the wine nor the types of grapes used.
In 1870, Carlo Gancia, a winemaker who studied production, produced the first Asti Spumante in France. Gancia produced this wine in the Italian town of Canelli, where wine eventually became so popular that the Moscato grape (also known as “Muscat”) gained the nickname “Muscat Canelli,” a nickname still printed on wine labels today.
Asti Spumante grew in popularity within the United States after returning WWII soldiers developed a taste for light, sweet wines and brought some home. The demand for this wine skyrocketed afterward, encouraging winemakers to use bulk production methods like the Charmat method.
The Charmat method involves a sealed fermentation tank compared to a fermentation bottle. However, most of these exported Asti Spumante wines were not received well by the public, regarded as low-quality sweet wines.
Asti Spumante gained D.O.C.G. status in 1993. This rating means that any Asti Spumante wine is required by Italian wine law to be made entirely from Moscato Bianco grapes. Another requirement is that this wine must be fermented to an ABV that falls between 7 to 9%. After gaining D.O.C.G. status, winemakers shortened the name, simply calling these wines “Asti,” to distance the newer wine from its negative old reputation.
These days, modern styles of Asti Spumante are generally less sweet and contain more fruit flavors than in years past.
Asti Spumante Food Pairings
As a sweeter wine, Asti Spumante can be a bit tricky to match with conventional dishes. That said, there are a few that we can wholeheartedly recommend.
The Best Asti Spumante Food Pairings
Asti Spumante is most commonly enjoyed as a dessert pairing or as an apéritif.
When eating desserts, it's commonly the sweet taste of the food that persists across each bite. This means dry wines clash with the sugar content of sweet desserts.
In this case, Asti Spumante is a perfect companion because its natural sweetness matches those of dessert items, making it a great combination of apple pies with cream, glazed fruits, and hazelnut desserts. During the holiday season, this wine goes great with pudding, peach cobbler, and citrus cakes.
However, Asti Spumante’s sweetness and acidity make it a great pairing with savory foods as well. When at a brunch, picnic, or garden party, Asti Spumante should be a fitting choice with salted and cured meats like charcuterie, strong cheeses, salted nuts, or chips for an extra crunch. When paired with summer salads, this wine brings out the freshness of the vegetables and the wine itself.
Finally, Asti Spumante can also be paired with spicy Asian foods like Thai, Szechuan, or Korean cuisine. The sweetness of the wine counteracts the heat of the food, but don’t get too carried away! It’s easy to take big gulps of this delicious sipper when eating spicy foods.
Food Pairings to Avoid with Asti Spumante
Try your best to avoid chocolate dessert items when enjoying Asti Spumante. Foods with chocolate will overpower the fruit flavors in delicate white wines, meaning many of the essential flavors are drowned out.
Asti Spumante Tasting Notes
Generally, when tasting Asti Spumante, you’ll first be greeted by a lovely sweetness and freshness. This wine is effortless to drink, and its low alcohol content means it won’t go straight to your head.
The wine is a brilliant golden straw-yellow color, with a fine perlage that persists across every single sip. Asti Spumante also exhibits delicate aromas of rose and hints of sage and acacia flowers. Those familiar with Moscato wines will unmistakably taste the velvety similarities in Spumante.
A quality bottle of Asti Spumante is fresh, light-bodied, and imparts bright notes of oranges, pears, apricots, and peaches. These flavors are balanced against crisp acidity, making this wine a refreshing in-between wine when eating, with fruity flavors lingering past each sip.
We recommend serving Asti Spumante chilled at a temperature range of 42° F - 46° F. This will keep the alcoholic flavors to a minimum while allowing those citrus and stone fruit flavors to take center stage on the palate.
Asti Spumante In A Nutshell
Asti Spumante is the right pick for you if you’re looking for effervescent white wines and want to try something other than Champagne or Prosecco. The native Italian wine has grown in popularity and reputation in the last decade. Its sweet, low-alcohol qualities and fresh fruity flavors make it a wine easily paired with many dessert foods and occasions like picnics or brunches.
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