Moscato D’Asti D.O.C.G. Master Class Review - A Sweet Winetasting of Italian Moscato Wines

You can call me a “wine-o” because I love tasting delicious wines I’ve never savored before! So, when I was invited to taste and learn about the characteristics of the Moscato d’Asti Italian wines at a master class and winemaker luncheon at the beautiful Spiaggia Restaurant, I was elated.

 

Poster

The crowd attending was eclectic – many wine distributors, wine importers, bartenders, restaurateurs plus the media.  This was my first instructional journey tasting and learning about the characteristics of Moscato wines. I must say I learned a lot and dined on a delicious winemaker’s buffet lunch after our master class.

Listening



The audience sat at long conference tables, with six wine glasses which were filled as the winemakers discussed their own unique brands over 90 minutes. Some of the winemakers spoke in charming Italian-accented English while two winemakers had their comments translated. Currently, over 400 companies are involved in Moscato wine production, produced in the Piedmont Northern region of Italy.

 

 

Tasting

Its unique floral aromas frequently remind its fans of wisteria, lime, peach and apricot, with hints of sage, lemon and orange blossoms. The grapes are picked mostly by hand and come from rolling hills within 52 municipalities, many along the banks of the Tanaro River.

 

Moscato wines, usually pale straw-yellow to golden yellow, are usually thought of as dessert wines because of their sweet flavors. However, the winemakers shared  their opinions that diners should pair Moscato wines with everything from spicy shrimp to tempura to virtually every type of food and dessert. We did just that at the luncheon which had everything from pastas to salad, to fish and meat. It was all good.

 

 

Exploring

The wine-making process begins when the grapes are gently pressed while the juice is stored at a cold temperature. Fermentation then takes place in special pressurized tanks. After roughly a week of fermentation, when the proper balance between the alcohol, sugar and acidity is reached, the wine is chilled down and fermentation stops. Then, the wine goes through a sterile filtration to eliminate the yeasts and is bottled cold. The alcoholic content is usually just 5% of the wine.

 

Each wine had a unique flavor, depending on the local soil the grapes are grown in. The hills in this Northern region are dominated by these vineyards, organized in parallel, almost geometric rows which are meticulously well-tended. In particular, during the first days of September, Moscato Bianco grapes produce precious aromatic substances that announce the onset of harvest time, when the grapes are carefully hand- picked.

 

These wines are bottled according to market demand. Although people used to consider Moscatos as cheaper wines, this is no longer the case. Currently, Moscato d’Asti is gaining popularity in the United States, with almost 4 million bottles sold in the first quarter of 2016 alone. It is rapidly growing in popularity as more and more liquor and wine stores learn about the different varieties.

 

Deciding

The six Moscatod’Asti wines we sampled came from these wineries: Saracco, Coppo, Michele Chiarlo, Marenco, Ceeretto and Caudrina. Each had its own unique taste and all were tasty. If you are not already familiar with this extraordinary wine, you will learn more about American wine tastings by visiting the leemusa website for more information.

 

Based on our delectable buffet luncheon, I wholeheartedly recommend dining at Spiaggi Restaurant. Spiaggi sets the standard for Italian dining, earning four-star reviews, international praise and national awards including the “Best of Award of Excellent” from Wine Spectator. There is a 700-bottle wine list, all handpicked by award-winning Sommelier Rachael Lowe.

 

Wines sampled

Spiaggi Restaurant is located on Chicago’s famous Miracle mile at 980 North Michigan Avenue. See the Spiaggi Restaurant website for more information.

 

 Photos:Eric Clarke

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