Did you know? The town of Asti is home to the best and most well-known sparkling wines of Italy. Asti lies in the heart of the Piedmonte region. This famous wine region stretches across Monferrato towards Langa Astigiana. The River Tanaro runs alongside this hilly province. Its topographical layout includes gentle hills and rugged valleys with acres of vineyards lying between them.
Travelers visit Asti to explore its picturesque landscape, enjoy the rich history and learn about Asti Spumante. Festival delle Sagre (The Festivals of Festivals), in particular, attracts global attention from food and wine enthusiasts.
The prestigious event is held on the second Sunday of September. During that weekend, Asti transforms into an open-air culinary mecca where thousands of food lovers and wine enthusiasts stroll the festival and revel in all the gastronomic delights. This article, however, will take a closer look at Asti’s most valuable gift to the world, Asti Spumante!
The History of Asti Spumante
Asti Spumante is made primarily from moscato grapes (muscat). The perennial grape is widely grown in northern Italy and is indigenous to Piedmont. These grapes are considered to be the oldest grape varietal in the world, with a distinctive aroma, sweet flavor, and underlining fruity notes. Asti Spumante means sparkling wine from Asti.
Its first production can be traced to 1870 when Carlo Gancia experimented with the Champagne method he studied in France. This Italian winemaker was located alongside the River Belbo in a town called Canelli. Due to the wine’s popularity, Moscato Bianco grapes were dubbed as Muscat Canelli. It’s a name you can still see on wine labels today as a nod to the hype created all those years ago.
A few decades later, Asti Spumante rose in popularity within the United States. It was post-WWII when American soldiers brought back bottles of the sweet sparkly wines they had grown accustomed to drinking during the war. Italian winemakers switched fermentation methods from Champagne to Charmat (preferable for bulk productions) to keep up with the influx in demand for Asti Spumante. Unfortunately, the sealed fermentation tank technique (aka the Charmat method) received a negative response from the general public. They regarded it as a low-quality counterpart compared to the original Asti Spumante.
By 1993, Asti Spumante gained Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin status (D.O.C.G.). The rating required winemakers to produce white wines made entirely of Moscato Bianco grapes. Apart from that, the Italian wine law enforced another rule regarding its fermentation process. This made it mandatory for winemakers to ferment Asti wines to an ABV (standard of measurement for alcohol content) that fell between 7-9%. After earning the D.O.C.G status, winemakers immediately rebranded the wine as ‘Asti’ to shake off the negative reputation they had gained post-WWII.
Modern renditions of Asti Spumante are fruitier and less sweet. Yet, they are as well-received as the original. These days, it holds the reputation of being one of the most exported Italian wines. Leading manufacturers include Contratto, Gancia, Bosca, Martini, and Coppo.
The Taste & Food Pairings
The first sip of Asti Spumante takes you on a deliciously sweet journey with vibrant and fresh fruity notes. A premium bottle of Asti Spumante tastes like a combination of fruits, namely, pears, peaches, oranges, and apricots. These sweet flavors are balanced by the crisp acidic taste that comes from muscat grape. Asti Spumante gives off floral aromas of acacia flowers, roses, and hints of sage. The velvety wine features a dazzling golden straw-like color with a sparkly perlage that’s persistent across every sip. The flowery aroma shares similarities with other Moscato productions found in and around this wine region of Italy.
Moreover, the light-bodied drink has low alcohol levels that make it easier to pair it with different meals. It’s commonly served with dessert as an apéritif. Some popular pairings include fruits, citrus cakes, peach cobbler, puddings, and apple pie. Alternatively, the sweet and acidic notes of the wine make it an excellent choice for special occasions, brunches, light dinner options, and picnics. Also, it pairs nicely with salads, charcuterie, and finger foods such as seasoned nuts, potato chips, and a variety of cheese.
No matter what the occasion is, Asti Spumante should always be served chilled at a temperature of 42-46 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our Piedmonte Tour
One of our next Tavola Tours adventures will be the great wine-producing region of Piedmonte. As for a culinary and cultural adventure, it’s a perfect pick. Awaiting for you in the town of Asti and Canelli are exciting wine tastings, relaxing expeditions to the top vineyards of the area, and many other historical points of interest. Piedmonte is a beautiful wine-producing region and it’s easy to get captivated by its natural beauty. And of course, a few bottles of Asti Spumante that you send or bring home as souvenirs for your special friends and family should make them feel appreciated and bubbly all over.
Click here for a delicious salmon recipe made with Asti Spumante. Also, stay tuned to our Facebook page and the Tavola Tours website for future updates on the upcoming Piedmonte adventure.
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