If you’re looking for a sweet and refreshing sparkling wine, look no further than Asti Spumante. This classic Italian wine is known for its light, fruity flavor and effervescent bubbles, making it the perfect choice for any celebration or occasion.
What is Asti Spumante?
Asti Spumante is a sparkling wine made in the Asti region of Piedmont, Italy. It is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, which is known for its sweet, aromatic flavor. Asti Spumante is a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wine, which means it is subject to strict production and quality standards to ensure its authenticity and quality.
A Brief History
Asti Spumante has a long and rich history dating back to ancient times. The Moscato grape was first cultivated in the Mediterranean region over 2,000 years ago, and has been prized for its sweet, aromatic flavor ever since. In the 19th century, a sparkling version of the wine was developed by a group of winemakers in Asti, who began producing it commercially in the early 20th century. Today, Asti Spumante remains one of Italy’s most popular wines, beloved for its sweet, fruity taste and effervescence.
Asti Spumante Tasting Notes
Asti Spumante is known for its sweet and fruity taste, with flavors of ripe peaches, apricots, and honeysuckle. It has a low alcohol content and a light body, which makes it refreshing and easy to drink. The wine’s effervescence contributes to its lively and playful character, with a delicate fizz that tingles on the tongue. Asti Spumante is also characterized by its natural sweetness, which comes from the residual sugars that remain after fermentation. Overall, Asti Spumante is a deliciously sweet and refreshing wine that is perfect for celebrating special occasions or enjoying as a dessert wine.
How is Asti Spumante Made?
Asti Spumante is made using the Charmat method, also known as the tank method. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the winemaking process:
- Harvesting the Grapes – Asti Spumante is made from Moscato Bianco grapes, which are harvested in late August or early September when they reach optimal ripeness.
- Pressing the Grapes – The grapes are gently pressed to extract the juice, which is then filtered to remove any impurities.
- Fermentation – The filtered juice is transferred to a temperature-controlled stainless steel tank, where it is fermented at a low temperature to preserve the wine’s natural sweetness and aroma.
- Stopping Fermentation – Before all the sugar in the grape juice is converted into alcohol, the fermentation process is stopped by chilling the wine to a very low temperature, usually around 32°F, in order to retain the natural sweetness of the grapes.
- Carbonation – The partially fermented wine is then put into a pressurized tank, where yeast and sugar are added to stimulate a second fermentation. This process creates carbon dioxide, which dissolves into the wine, creating bubbles and giving it its characteristic effervescence.
- Filtering and Bottling – The wine is then filtered to remove the yeast sediment and bottled under pressure to maintain its carbonation.
The entire process takes about 3-6 months, depending on the style and quality of the wine. The result is a sweet, fruity, and sparkling wine that is perfect for celebrating special occasions or enjoying as a dessert wine.
Asti Spumante Food Pairings
Asti Spumante’s sweetness and effervescence make it a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of foods. Here are a few food pairing suggestions:
Desserts – Asti Spumante is often enjoyed as a dessert wine, and pairs particularly well with fruit-based desserts such as peach cobbler, apple pie, or mixed fruit salad. Its sweetness and fruitiness complement the flavors of the dessert, while its effervescence cuts through the richness and provides a refreshing contrast. It’s also great with wedding cake!
Spicy Foods – The sweetness and low alcohol content of Asti Spumante make it a good match for spicy foods, such as Thai or Indian cuisine. Its effervescence can help to cool the palate and balance the heat of the spices.
Cheese – Asti Spumante pairs well with a variety of cheeses, particularly soft and creamy ones such as brie or goat cheese. The wine’s sweetness complements the rich, creamy texture of the cheese, while its effervescence helps to cleanse the palate between bites.
Brunch – Asti Spumante is a popular choice for brunch, and pairs well with a variety of dishes such as quiche, frittatas, and waffles. Its light, fruity flavor and effervescence are a refreshing complement to savory brunch dishes. It would also be delicious in Mimosas!
Is Asti Spumante Champagne?
No, Asti Spumante is not Champagne. Champagne is a sparkling wine that is made in the Champagne region of France, using three specific grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier), and following strict production methods that are regulated by French law.
In contrast, Asti Spumante is a sparkling wine that is made in the Asti region of Italy, using the Moscato Bianco grape variety and the Charmat method, which is a different production method than the one used to make Champagne.
While Champagne and Asti Spumante are both sparkling wines, they have different flavor profiles, production methods, and legal designations. Champagne is generally drier and more complex in flavor than Asti Spumante, and is often considered a more sophisticated and prestigious wine due to its long history and association with luxury. Asti Spumante, on the other hand, is known for its sweet and fruity flavor and is often enjoyed as a celebratory or dessert wine.
It’s worth noting that the term “Champagne” is protected by French law, and can only be used to describe sparkling wines that are made in the Champagne region of France and follow strict production methods. In Italy, the term “spumante” is used to describe sparkling wines made using the Charmat method, such as Asti Spumante.
Best Asti Spumante Wines
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Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante Sparkling Wine
Perhaps the most popular Asti Spumante wine out there, Martini & Rossi is a classic for a reason! This bottle delivers sweet fragrance and low alcohol, paired with aromatic tasting notes of ripe peaches and juicy tangerines.
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Stella Rosa Imperiale Moscato Sparkling Wine
A luxurious “super moscato” of exceptional quality. The grapes are hand-selected from exclusive family-run vineyards in Asti, Alessandria, and Cuneo, resulting in a wine of the utmost distinction. With its natural acidity and low pH, this wine achieves a perfect harmony between its inherent sweetness and a refreshing crispness, without being overly sweet or heavy. Enjoy it chilled by-the-glass, over ice, or as a base for a refreshing, all-natural cocktail.
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Cinzano Asti Spumante
The Cinzano family as one of the most historic sparkling wine makers in Italy. Bringing over 260 years of expertise and using traditional methods to produce their Cinzano Asti D.O.C.G. Taste the history in this delicious Spumante wine!
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Golden yellow color and fine and persistent perlage. The aroma is aromatic, with hints of exotic fruit, sage and honey. Sweet, fruity, very balanced taste, reminiscent of the grapes of origin.
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