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Moscato (Pronunciation: Moh-sca-toe) pairs particularly well with spicy Asian fare (think Szechuan), as the sweet from the wine tames the heat in the food. This unique wine is often labeled simply as “Moscato” or if it’s bred and born in Italy’s Northwest region of Piedmont, it’s seen sporting its full name of Moscato d’Asti (named after the grape, Moscato, and the Italian town of Asti).
Today Moscato is seeing a surge in wine fans around the world and is made in many wine regions outside of Italy, with the U.S. and Australia taking a particular interest in introducing Moscato’s sweeter side to enthusiasts near and far.
Moscato is known for its surprising perfume-like fragrance, light-body, semi-sparkling, spritzy character (just like the Mee’s), lower alcohol content (typically to the tune of the around 5%-8%) and its dazzling fruit-forward palate profile with a welcoming sweet factor. The wine’s color steers towards straw yellow with occasional tinges of gold. Moscato’s inherent aromatics are simply stunning – orange blossom, honeysuckle, almonds, ginger and ultra expressive fruit dominated by green grapes, citrus tones and ripe peach nuances.
Wine Pairing Tips
When matching any food with wine, there are several basic rules to keep in mind:
- Similar foods and wines pair well. A delicate dish, for example, demands a delicate, light-bodied wine, and a hearty, rib-warming meal needs a rich, powerful, full-bodied wine.
- Contrasting foods and wines can also be good partners, although these matches are trickier.
- Food and wine should complement, rather than overpower, each other. As wine importer Rudi Wiest likes to say, “Whatever is on the plate is already dead. You do not have to kill it again.” You do not want a wine that will overwhelm a dish; you want one that will stand up to it.
- Fiery dishes are best with wines that are low in tannins and alcohol, which fan the flames, and with off-dry (slightly sweet) and sweet wines, which tone them down.
- In general, the lower the alcohol the sweeter the wine.
- If beer goes well with a dish, sparkling wine will too.
- Here is a rule of thumb: the milder the dish the drier the wine; the spicier, the fruitier; the hotter, the sweeter.
It is also important to keep in mind two other distinctive things about Chinese food:
- The frequent combinations of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavors, which play a great part in determining which wines are appropriate, and
- The wide array of vegetable, bean curd, seafood, poultry, pork and beef dishes served at the same meal.
Given all these factors, it may be tempting to raise your hands in surrender and say, “I will have a Tsingtao.” But, in a way, these considerations make the choice of wine easy: The best thing to do is to serve the most food-friendly wines.
And for Mee, that choice is often Moscato (when it isn’t a Mai Tai!)
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
–Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)