Wine Wednesday (You Can Drink Your Dessert)

La Spinetta Biancospino Moscato d’Asti 2011

“This wine rains kisses in your mouth.” –Insatiable By Gael Greene

The first Wednesday of every month is Wine Wednesday! Spectacular wines under $10.00. Yep. Under $10.00. Sometimes wine is less expensive where I am, but most of the time it’s more expensive. Hopefully that means that I will pick wines that are well below the $10.00 limit for most of you.

I will post wines that I particularly like. I am no specialist by any means, but I do love wine. I know the basics of the different varietals, what regions generally produce, how wines are made, but this space is all about preference. We all like what we like, and you might like what I like too. I will post food pairings and why those pairings are suitable for the specific wine.

Biancospino Moscato d’Asti

Price: $9.99

Variety: Moscato

Guys I’m sorry that this wine is pretty close to that $10 price point. But this is a dessert wine. That’s right. A dessert wine. If you’re unfamiliar, a dessert wine is a wine that has a very high sugar content and a low alcohol content. There are many different ways that this can be achieved, but dessert wines are generally more expensive. Almost always this has to do with the technique of production being used—less wine is created from the same amount of grapes in other wines.

The technique used in this particular wine—the Asti method—is a bit simpler that others commonly used for dessert wines. The wine makers partially ferment the moscato grape juice in a tank using yeast. The yeast gets to work on the juice by eating the sugar and producing carbon dioxide and alcohol. Some of this carbon dioxide is captured in the tank creating a slight carbonation. Additionally, very early on in the juice’s fermentation, the resulting wine is cooled to kill the yeast. This is done at 5% alcohol retaining a great deal of the sugar in the original juice. Wines made using the Asti method are not as bubbly as a champagne or prosecco but maintain a small amount of effervescence—just enough to see it in your glass. The wine is also never “bottle-fermented” like most carbonated wines meaning that it doesn’t need that heavy duty mushroom cork and wire cage.

This dessert wine is getting pretty old for a white wine. As the wine sits and “ages” the flavor becomes more mellowed, but the color becomes darker. That’s why you rarely see aged white wines. The residual sugar oxidizes and creates that slightly yellowed color you see here in the picture. As a result, this wine is on its last legs and is on sale at many liquor stores! Run out to yours and see if it’s there. It’s a real treat.

Biancospino Moscato d’Asti is a wine that tastes a bit like peaches and apricots with some pear in there too. The light sparkle and mellowed flavor imparts a freshness to the wine that is in contrast to the intense sweetness. Overall, a nice balance for a dessert wine.

I paired the wine with something that’s easy for entertaining. Because everyone needs more recipes for that this summer. I chose a lemon feta dip that can go with just about anything you throw at it! Although, truthfully, this wine is amazing all on its own. I do like this dip because it’s sharp in flavor and slightly savory as compared to the smooth and sweet profile of the wine. It’s always fun when you can create new flavors in a wine through food. For example, this dip brings out some acidity in the Moscato d’Asti wine.

Lemon Feta Dip

Adapted from Sweet Paul

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon lemon zest

½ lemon, juiced

1 large garlic clove

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

⅛ – ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

A pinch salt

1. In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients and pulse until smooth but still chunky. Taste and adjust for flavor adding more red pepper if not spicy enough or more lemon juice if not sharp enough.

2. Optional: serve with more red pepper flakes and some chopped fresh thyme if desired.

3. Scoop up with chips or pita crisps, or even spread on bread/toast when you’re ready to eat!

Note: Use olive oil and feta that you like the flavor of because the dip will taste most like those two ingredients. In other words, don’t skimp on the quality if you don’t want your dip to taste “cheap.”

Enjoy your Wine Wednesday!


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