by Sarah McCleery
I always have a few bottles of Prosecco in the cupboard. It’s a delicious aperitif and is great for summer picnics. I’m keen on The Wine Society’s Prosecco from La Riva dei Frati (£8.95, The Wine Society) that is as bright and refreshing as they come. Slightly richer in fruit is the very delicious organic version from Bosco del Merlo (£11.50, Vintage Roots).
However, my guiltiest pleasure when it comes to Italian sparkling wine is Moscato d’Asti. Made from Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains grapes grown in the country’s north west vineyards it is only lightly frothy with a maximum of 1.7 atmospheres of pressure in the bottle (compare this to the roughly 5 atm for Champagne). More importantly it’s sweet and low in alcohol (around 5.5%).
It is extremely important not to confuse Moscato d’Asti with Asti Spumante. The latter is fully sparkling (like Champagne) and the alcohol levels are higher, although still sweet in style. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Asti Spumante, it’s just that the only lightly frothy, lower-alcohol Moscato d’Asti has, for me, greater charm.
Being sweet it’s a great lunchtime aperitif because it really does get the gastric juices flowing. A star performer at the start, it’s also lovely served with a bowl of fruit salad at the end of the meal. I also love it with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and at indulgent celebratory brunches. In fact, I’ll have it whenever I can… it is terrific stuff!
It is perhaps its sweetness that makes it less fashionable than Prosecco so you’ve got to hunt it down but I strongly urge you to do so.
Try Giacoma Bologna’s example from Tanners Wines that is generously fruity and refreshing (£12.20, Tanners Wines). There’s also the fabulously aromatic ‘Suri Sandrinet’ from Cerutti that has delicacy without being feeble (£11.95, BBR). The best Moscato d’Asti buy I know of takes me back to The Wine Society (The Wine Society) who list Perrone Elio’s wine for just £6.75. It’s an absolute steal at the price and just as with the others it marries sweetness with freshness, making for a quite irresistible glass of wine.