Happy Moscato Day!
Last year we went a bit into the history of Moscato d’Asti as a grape and the Piemonte region it hails from. In that content, we spoke about how farmers enjoy Moscato with lunch because of its lower alcohol volume. Since that posting we’ve spoken many times on the blog about wine pairings and the rule of thumb for pairing sweet wines – it must be equal to sweeter than the dish it is being served with. In the case of Moscato d’Asti, that would mean you are pairing with desserts, always.
Well, we always stress there are exceptions to the rules, so here we go…
While it is true its best to pair with something that is equally as sweet as the wine, that only applies to “harmonious pairings” – one where things are in harmony on the palate. But that would mean that the farmers in Piemonte are eating sponge cake for lunch everyday. That doesn’t seem correct.
And it isn’t.
The other side of the pairing spectrum is “contrasting pairings” – when you work an aspect of your palate in conjunction with another active portion. Think: bittersweet, sweet & sour, savory/sweet.
It is not uncommon to add a pinch of Maldon salts or olive oil to ice cream to do a savory sweet combo. Asian dishes fuse sweet and spicy in a broad range of presentations to great effect. Essentially you need to think along this path to understand the farmers diet in Piemonte and the pairing of lunch with Moscato.
The physical labor of working the vines requires a high protein diet and a decent level of carbohydrates to metabolize and keep the vine staff working strong through the second half of the day. Thus it is not uncommon to find Salami (generally served with fruits like figs or melons) paired with Moscato d’Asti. The effervescence of the wine cuts through the rich fats in the cured meat while the sweetness of the wine plays beautifully off the saltiness of the meat. It is true that Moscato does well with spicy Asian & Indian dishes, but a great bottle of Moscato with some fresh fruit and Salami is the winning combination for those who appreciate a good contrast in their lives.
Finding yourself curious or sceptical? Try a bottle of our imported Lot 624 Moscato d’Asti ($14) and grab a log of your favorite salami and try it out! While figs and/or melons are recommended, try with red apples like Fuji, Honeycrisp, and the likes thereof for a fun experience with this pairing!