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Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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Archive for Wine

WINE: Summer White Wines You’ve Never Heard Of

This guest post is from Jim Laughren: wine collector, former president of a Florida-based wine import and distribution company and founder of WineHead Consulting. A Certified Wine Educator, Jim has conducted hundreds of teachings, tastings and training sessions, and has visited wine regions throughout the world. He is the author of A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Knowing And Enjoying Fine Wine. He recommends three exciting white wines you’ve probably never heard of.

As a kid in New England, growing up within earshot of chilly North Atlantic waves crashing onto the rocky shoreline, “summer whites” referred to lightweight, summer uniforms donned by the swabbies at nearby Newport Naval Base. While I’m sure the sailors were glad to trade in their peacoats and winter woolens for something a bit more comfortable, many modern day sailors—of the culinary variety—have grown tired of their summer whites and would love to find some delicious new wines for onboard entertaining.

Whether grilling in the backyard, welcoming friends to the summertime table or lounging next to the pool. If you’re still reeling from the ABC syndrome (anything but Chardonnay), and have had your fill of not-too-exciting Pinot Grigios, take heart. There are some wonderful white wines out there just waiting to be discovered.

 

Txakoli, pronounced cha-ko-LEE, from Spain’s Basque region. Photo © Jose Ortuza.

 

Today’s recommendations are delicious, affordable and uniformly hard to pronounce. Pronunciation keys are provided, of course, so you can inquire with confidence at the wine store.

Txakoli

The Basque country of northern Spain us one of the world’s centers of great cuisine. When a light white is needed, the locals call for Txakoli. Ppronounced cha-ko-LEE, it’s a lively, light-to-medium bodied wine with a slight effervescence.

Typically pale straw in color with dramatic, mouth-watering acidity, expect to find honey, citrus and stone fruit notes that go beautifully with light, simply prepared seafood. It’s the answer to the question of what wine is perfect with grilled octopus.

If the wine’s name isn’t enough to give you pause, consider that it’s made from the grape variety Hondarrabi Zuri (onda-RAH-bee THOR-ry, with a rolled “r” on rabi).

 

Edelzwicker, meaning “noble blend.” Photo
courtesy Domaine Mauler | France.

 

Edelzwicker

Edelzwicker (AY-del-ZVEE-kur) is next in our lineup of who-named-these wines. The name means “noble blend.”

Edelzwicker is a scrumptious, fuller bodied white that easily handles foods like smoked salmon, light pork and veal dishes. Higher in alcohol than Txakolis, these wines hail from Alsace, that northeast corner of France that’s been a ping-pong ball of territory batted back and forth between Germany and France since the Romans first established the region as a viticultural outpost around 50 B.C.E.

Edelzwickers are a free-form blend of any or all of the best Alsatian varieties, including Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and/or Sylvaner. Despite the lack of uniformity in composition, these wines are usually a lovely yellow color with open, fruity aromas. A similar, and more easily pronounced, wine, called Gentil, hails from the same region and is nearly indistinguishable.

 

Moschofilero

It may sound more Italian than Greek, but Moschofilero (moss-ko-FEE-leh-roe) hails from the highlands of the central Peloponnese peninsula in Greece. This rather marvelous white wine is vying to become my new, new favorite.

Moschofilero, a pink-skinned grape descended from the ancient Filero grape family, produces wine that is light in color and known for its effusive aromas of roses and violets, followed by some nicely textured, spicy fruit flavors. This wine has presence; in fact, it’s hard not to be impressed with this particular wine, regardless of the wine styles you’re normally drawn to.

There you have it: three unique wines, three excellent summer sipping options. While you may have trouble getting all the syllables in order, you shouldn’t have any problem finding them at most good wine shops.

Let your retailer know you want the best examples of these wines. After all, life is short; why drink anything less than excellent? Txakoli, Edelzwicker and Moschofilero are able, exotic and ready for deployment as your new summer whites. Do your palate a favor and welcome them aboard.

  

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FOOD HOLIDAY: Robert Mondavi’s Birthday

Today’s the day to pick up a bottle or two of Robert Mondavi wine.

It’s Mondavi’s 100th birthday (June 18, 1913 – May 16, 2008). The American wine pioneer and innovator made technical improvements and developed marketing strategies that brought worldwide recognition for the wines of California’s Napa Valley. Until then, California wines “got no respect”: American wine buyers were French-wine-focused.

A bottle of Robert Mondavi Winery’s 2011 Fume Blanc is a beautiful warm weather wine and a great choice for a birthday celebration. It’s an exceptionally well-balanced, fruit-forward varietal (Sauvignon Blanc) that is enjoyable on its own or as a food wine, with fish, shellfish and lighter dishes. Fume Blanc, a name Mondavi trademarked, is made in the style of French Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre wines), with citrusy fruit and herbal flavors, minerality and racy acidity. It’s one of our favorite wines.

One of Mondavi’s innovations was to promote the labeling of wines by their varietal names, i.e., Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc. The European tradition is to name the wine based on its village, region or other geography (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Port, etc.).

 

Robert Mondavi’s acclaimed Fume Blanc. Photo courtesy Robert Mondavi Winery.

 
How It All Began

Mondavi‘s father had a business in California that shipped grapes to the East Coast for home winemaking. The family then acquired the Charles Krug Winery in Napa, and after graduating from Stanford, Mondavi joined his father and brother Peter in the business.

You can read the story—a saga worthy of a motion picture or mini series—in The House Of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty.

Today, the Robert Mondavi Winery produces a large variety of wines in multiple lines, ranging from connoisseur wines to everyday wines: Reserve Wines, District Wines, Napa Valley Wines and Winery Exclusive Wines, the latter of which can only be purchased at the winery.

Learn more at RobertMondaviWinery.com. And plan a trip to visit the lovely winery. It’s an easy drive from San Francisco.

  

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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Moscato Day Cocktail Recipes

You can celebrate May 9th, National Moscato Day, with a glass of Moscato: the slightly sweet white wine pairs well wherever an Alsatian Gewürtztraminer or Riesling would be at home (see the food pairings below).

But for National Moscato Day, we present two cocktail recipes, courtesy of Gallo Family Vineyards, one of our favorite Moscato makers.

MOSCATO DAY CELEBRATION PUNCH

Serves 6-8 people.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Moscato
  • 2 ounces blanco (silver) Tequila
  • 4 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 4 ounces strongly brewed chamomile tea
  • 2 ounces agave nectar
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Garnish: grapefruit and lemon wheels
  • Ice
  •  

    Try a Moscato-Tequila punch. Photo courtesy Gallo.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a punch bowl or large pitcher filled with ice.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

     

    A Gimlet made with Moscato instead of gin. Photo courtesy Gallo.

     

    MOSCATO GIMLET

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces Moscato
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • Lime wedge or wheel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a coupe glass.

    2. GARNISH with lime wedge and serve.

     

    ABOUT MOSCATO

    Moscato is a lighter-style white wine, lower in alcohol (5%-8% ABV, about half the alcohol of other wines). It is popular with brunch, dessert or as an apéritif. It is grown around the world. The Italian bottlings, from Italy’s Piedmont region, are called Moscato d’Asti: named after the grape, Moscato, and the Italian town of Asti, the center of production. Asti Spumante is sparkling Moscato.

    Straw-colored Moscato is known for its fruit (often peaches and tangerines, depending on region), its floral fragrance fragrance and its subtle sweetness.

    PAIRING MOSCATO WITH FOOD

    Don’t store Moscato: It’s meant to be drunk fresh and vibrant in the year it is vinified. Serve it with:

  • Antipasto and charcuterie plates
  • Asian foods, especially spicy cuisines such as Indian and Thai
  • Desserts, including apple desserts; biscotti and other cookies; fresh berries and fruit salad; fruit pies and cobblers including lemon meringue and Key lime pies; hazelnut desserts; loaf cakes and sponge cakes (delicious with lemon-poppy bread!)
  • Cheese, especially more pungent cheeses such as blues, Parmigiano-Reggiano washed rind cheeses; or with Brie and other double- and triple-crème cheeses
  • Shellfish, from the raw bar to grilled lobster, scallops, shrimp
  •  
    SEE ALL THE AMERICAN FOOD HOLIDAYS.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Malbec Red Wine For Easter

    Marvelous Malbecs. Photo courtesy Trapiche
    Vineyards.

     

    If you’re in charge of the wine for Easter, how about trying something new?

    Malbec, the signature grape of the Cahors area of southwestern France, has become the signature grape of Argentina. You’re likely to find a nice choice of Malbecs from both areas on the shelves of your wine store.

    Malbec is deep purple in color and lush with ripe, juicy berry and plummy dark fruit flavors. Secondary flavors can include herbal, licorice/anise and violet notes.

    Malbec will appeal to lovers of the Bordeaux grapes. It has been called “the more rustic cousin of Merlot” by wine expert Jancis Robinson. For many years it has been used in some Bordeaux blends to add deep color, tannins and plummy flavors. In the Loire Valley it is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay.

    As global interest in wine has increased, Malbec has become bottled as a single varietal, vinified to be drunk young. It is excellent with Easter ham and lamb, as well as with turkey. In fact, Malbec can easily step in whenever a red wine is called for, including with spicy cuisines like Cajun.

    Malbec is also delicious with bittersweet chocolate (see our chocolate and wine pairing chart).

     

    TRAPICHE BIODNYNAMIC MALBEC

    Those who prefer organic, sustainable wines should take a look at the Malbecs from Trapiche Vineyards, Argentina’s largest exported premium wines. The company practices biodynamic agriculture.

    Biodynamic is the word used in most countries to describe what Americans call organic. It is actually the most rigorous approach among biological and ecological agricultural practices, with tougher standards than organic.

    Biodynamic agriculture supports everything that is natural and forbids the use of chemicals, herbicides and fungicides. It aims for a balanced ecosystem, biodiversity and the recovery of the bacterial activity in the soils. The only fertilizers allowed are the vegetable and animal wastes from a biodynamic farm.

    The Trapiche Vineyards Malbec is a rich red wine with aromas of plums and cherries on the nose, hints of truffle and vanilla on the palate and a smooth, full finish. The prices range from $8 for the basic varietal to $41 for the finest single-vineyard Malbecs.

    WANT TO HAVE FUN WITH EASTER WINES?

    Beyond Malbec, THE NIBBLE’s wine editor, Kris Prasad, recommends wines that are perfect for an Easter celebration:

  • Lacryma Christi, made from local grapes in red and white wines by Mastroberardino, the most renowned winery in the Campania region of southern Italy, established in the 1750s. Campania’s s by winemaker Pietro di Mastro Berardino. PiThe name means “tears of Christ.”
  • Saint Joseph “Offerus,” from the great French winemaker Jean Louis Chave, is a syrah-based wine from the Rhone region. According to the Gospels, Joseph donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after his crucifixion. The great northern Rhone wine appellation Saint Joseph is named for him. “Offerus” means offering.
  •  
    Here’s the full Easter wines article.

     

    Trapiche is one of the popular Malbecs from Argentina. Photo courtesy Trapiche Vineyards.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Chocolat Rouge Wine

    Chocolate and red wine pair well together. So the inspired producers of ChocolatRouge wines have created a line of dessert wines that blends rich chocolate flavors into quality red wine. Instead of the traditional dessert wine technique, which uses late harvest, sugar-laden grapes, ChocolatRouge infuses chocolate flavors into dry red wine.

    We tried two of the three bottlings. We enjoyed both; one in particular has made it onto our personal holiday gift list.

    Dark Red Blend: We’ll use the vintner’s description, “reminiscent of chocolate-dipped red berries with a soft velvety finish.” The chocolate notes are subtle; if you didn’t know the chocolate was there, you might think it was a conventional red dessert wine.

    While Dark Red Blend is charming, our favorite is Milk Chocolate Flavors: We ordered a case for holiday gifting

    Milk Chocolate Flavors: Looking like chocolate milk in a wine bottle, this treat is a chocolatey, creamy and rich. It reminds us of a chocolate shake blended with some red dessert wine…

     

    Dessert wines made with chocolate. Photo courtesy ChocolatRouge.com.

     

    …so much so, that the next time we open a bottle of red dessert wine, we’re going to blend in some chocolate milk to see if we can achieve something similar. Unfortunately, the contents of Dark Red Blend were consumed by THE NIBBLE team before we had a chance to make and add chocolate milk.

    While Milk Chocolate Flavors is also a dessert wine, it’s an anytime chocolate treat.

    We didn’t have the third variety, Sweet Red Blend; but based on our satisfaction with its two siblings. we’ll certainly pick up a bottle when we come across it.

    The ChocolateRouge website has recipes for lovely winetails (wine-based cocktails): Café, Cherry Cordial, Julep, Milky Way, Orangette, Red Velvet, Spiced and Winter Sangria. But we enjoyed drinking both bottles chilled, straight up.

    There’s a store locator on the website.

    You can also order it on Amazon.com for $12.99/bottle.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Autographed Champagne Bottles

    With a gold felt-tipped pen, you can turn a Champagne or wine bottle into a memento of friendship and good times.

    It’s the concept of a guest book ported to a bottle. With the gold ink, date an unopened bottle of Champagne and record the occasion (e.g., Christmas Party, 12.9.12).

    Next, have party guests or the members of your family gathering sign the bottle of Champagne. Then:

  • You can keep it as a memento.
  • You can have a prize drawing for it.
  • You can save it to serve next year…or in 5 years, 10 years, and so on.
  • You can turn the empty bottle into something else (see below).
  •  
    We use the gold (and silver) metallic ink marker pens from Sakura, available in stationery stores or online.

     

    Autograph a Champagne bottle as a memento. Photo courtesy Moet et Chandon.

    WHAT TO DO WITH THE AUTOGRAPHED BOTTLE

    What to do with the bottle after you’ve drunk the Champagne? We scoured the Internet for ideas:

  • CANDLE HOLDER. Over the years, you can “collect a set.”
  • DECORATIVE LIGHT. Fill with white Christmas lights (see how).
  • INCENSE BURNER. Drill holes to turn it into an incense burner (the smoke drifts out of the holes and the neck).
  • KNICKNACK. Add it to the knicknack shelf.
  • LAMP. With the right shade, it could be quite lovely (go to a lamp store, not Walmart).
  • VASE. Showcase a lily or gerber daisy.
  • WALL HANGING. Have someone saw the bottle in half and hang one or both pieces on a wall.
  • WATER PITCHER. Buy a decorative bottle stopper, fill with water and keep the bottle in the fridge (or use it just for parties).
  •  
    Or, simply recycle the bottle and enjoy the memories.

    WRITE YOUR MESSAGE ON GIFT BOTTLES

    Use the gold pen to write any message on a bottle, from Congratulations! to Happy Birthday to Wishing You Health And Good Cheer in 2013.

      

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    WINE: Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc

    We’ve never been to New Zealand, but friends who moved there from the U.S. love it.

    It sounds like paradise: pristine waters, lots of sunshine and clean air, not to mention wonderful lamb and delicious wines.

    Considered one of the great wine-growing regions of the world, Marlborough, located on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is one of the country’s sunniest areas. The climate is perfect for growing crisp, zesty Sauvignon Blancs and complex yet fruity Pinot Noirs.

    The Nobilo winery is one of the best in the region, with two award winning lines: Nobilo Regional Collection and Nobilo Icon. Founder Nikola Nobilo emigrated from Croatia in 1937, ordered by his uncle who saw the signs of what would become World War II.

    Nikola and his family began to plant grapes in 1943, and pioneered planting of classic European grape varieties in New Zealand that produced higher quality wines than the hybrid grapes the industry had been planting.

    We received a gift of a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir. Both honor their founder:

  • The full-bodied 2011 Sauvignon Blanc had a lovely nose of gooseberry, peach and lemon, with a rich palate. The citrus and gooseberry continue on the palate, along with a flinty minerality that we enjoy in Chablis. It’s impressive and well-priced at less than $20.00.
  •  

    Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir, one of two delicious wines we enjoyed on Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy Nobilo Winery.

     

  • The rich 2011 Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir has classic pinot notes: berry aromas (blackberry, cherry, raspberry), with toasty oak and spice underpinnings. A classic wine to pair with beef, lamb and pork, it was delicious with the Thanksgiving turkey. It retails for about $23.00.
  •  
    If you need to pick something nice for holiday meals and gifting, look for Nobilo Icon. The inspirational story behind it makes it even tastier.

    Learn more on the winery’s website.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Wine Wipes For Red Wine Lovers

    We have a friend who enjoys hearty red wines. After a few glasses, his teeth become so stained that monster movie makeup specialists should take note. It’s not a pretty sight.

    If only he would carry Wine Wipes. Unfortunately, the product packaging, with its image of female lips, is not exactly unisex. But either sex can use Wine Wipes discretely. The container can hide in the palm of your hand, and there’s a mirror on the inside of the lid.

    Years ago, when we went through an intensive Port-drinking phase and ended up with embarrassing “tannin teeth,” we asked our dentist, who was near retirement, what we could do to eliminate the stains. “If I were in an earlier phase of my career,” he said, “I’d love to do the research. But I’m winding down.”

    He did recommend drinking less tannic red wines. But when you’re in a Port mode, nothing else suffices. We ended up carrying a toothbrush and baking soda, and making trips to the restroom to clean our Bride of Frankenstein teeth.

     

    If red wine stains your teeth, here’s the solution. Photo courtesy Wine Wipes.

     

    Ten years later, we discovered Wine Wipes, a boon for people whose teeth stain more than they’d like. It’s easy to wipe away the unattractive dark red film on your teeth: Just run the cloth over your teeth, tongue and mouth, and they’ll be restored to normal.

    The all-natural ingredients won’t otherwise interfere with the taste of the wine:

  • Baking soda, which gives off free radicals that penetrate the surface of the tooth’s enamel and turn the stain clear. It also neutralizes acids that can corrode the enamel.
  • Salt, used before toothpaste was invented, is a natural cleanser and antiseptic. It helps to remove stains, and its alkaline properties also fight germs. The slight taste of salt will not interfere with your palate.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleaching agent and germ killer. It does not harm tooth enamel.
  • Calcium strengthens teeth by adhering to tooth enamel.
  • Glycerine coats the teeth to keep them from further staining.
  •  
    A small compact with 20 wipes has an SRP of $6.95.* You can get three for $14.99 on Amazon.

    Wine Wipes make great gifts for pals whose teeth tend to develop “wine tatoos,” and are fun stocking stuffers.

    Buy Wine Wipes on Amazon.com.
     
     
    *SRP = Suggested Retail Price, also called MSRP, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Switch Wines For Summer

    Enjoy affordable, sparkling Prosecco all
    summer long. Photo by Marcelo Terraza |
    SXC.

     

    In the hot weather months, we eat lighter foods and drink lighter styles of beer.

    How about wine?

    In addition to pairing well with lighter foods, consider three summer-appropriate wines—Albarino, Malbec and Prosecco—that are also lighter on the wallet ($10 to $15 a bottle). And, they’re vinified to be drunk as soon as you buy them—no aging required.

    VERO restaurant and wine bar in New York City is highlighting three wines on its summer menu: red Malbec, white Albariño and sparkling Prosecco.

    They work with lighter summer foods, as well as with bold-flavored favorites—such as beef and spicy dishes—that we enjoy year-round, and which require wines that are equally intense and full-flavored.

    So instead of sticking with the tried and true, embrace the joy of wine and discover new favorites.

    WHAT TO TRY

    Argentinean Malbec instead of Cabernet
    Sauvignon

    Both red wines are robust in body and flavor, with firm tannins that pair beautifully with grilled meats. But Malbec is vinified to be drink younger than Cabernet Sauvignon.

     

    Malbec has been called “the more rustic cousin of Merlot” by wine expert Jancis Robinson. The primary red grape of Argentina, Malbec is deep purple in color and lush with ripe, juicy berry and plums flavors. Some yield herbal, licorice/anise and violet notes. VERO is serving the 2010 Callia Alta Malbec (black cherry and plum flavors with hints of oak and spice, around $10 in stores) with a seared New York strip of beef and fries, finished with a smoked chili aïoli.

    Spanish Albariño instead of Sauvignon Blanc

    The grapefruit notes of both of these white wines compliment appetizers, grilled fish, shellfish, poultry and vegetarian dishes, as well as spicy seafood-based foods such as jambalaya (recipe).

    Albariño is the primary white grape grown in the Rias Baixes wine region, in the northeast corner of Spain (the part that sits on top of Portugal). The wines are highly aromatic with excellent acidity, an attribute that makes them very food-friendly. The palate yields apple, citrus and/or pear notes.

    VERO is serving the 2010 Morgadio Albariño (kiwi and mineral flavors, around $15 in stores) with pan seared mahi mahi over creamy polenta, with roasted tomatoes, baby fennel and sundried tomato vinaigrette.

    Prosecco instead of Champagne

    The effervescence of both sparklers is charming. But whereas Champagne’s sophisticated profile is heavy on yeast and breadiness/toastiness, Prosecco is light and fruity on the palate, with a nose of almonds, apples, and pears. Because it is meant to be drunk young, it is typically non-vintage. Serve it with charcuterie, salads, fish and seafood and spicy Asian foods. It is a very food-friendly wine.

    VERO is serving the Ricardo Pasqua Prosecco (an extra-dry spumante with a nose of sweet almonds, about $11 in stores) with a rock shrimp tempura and yuzu chili aïoli.

    So hit the wine store and start trying different bottles to find your favorite producers. Remember that you can search for reviews online to match up the specific wine producer’s profile with your tastes.

    *Champagne is unique among wine regions. The bottlings are usually a mixture of wines from different vintages (called non-vintage or NV). Vintage Champagne is a blend of wines from that one particular year indicated on the label, when the quality of the harvest, measured by the sweetness of the grapes, meets the requirements to declare a “vintage.” True vintage years may happen three or four times a decade, or fewer; vintage Champagnes need to be laid down for a longer period of time to mature. Because vintage Champagne commands a significantly higher price, some Champagne houses “declare” a vintage in a year when others do not feel the quality of the harvest merits it. This doesn’t imply that nonvintage Champagnes are inferior; in fact, in non-vintage years, wines are blended together to create the house’s “perfect” recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Bottle Of Moscato Wine

    Nearly two thousand years ago, the Roman author Pliny the Elder (23 C.E. – 79 C.E.) wrote in his Natural History: “The Muscat grape has been grown for a long time in Beaumes [in France] and its wine is remarkable.”

    Call it Muscat in French or Moscato in Italian: Today is the first National Moscato Day, celebrating the “remarkable” wine. The holiday was declared by Gallo Family Vineyards, producers of excellent and very affordable Moscato.

    By establishing National Moscato Day, the Gallo family hopes that you will raise a glass and get to know this delicious wine.

    The wine is already on a roll: Moscato sales in the U.S. continue to grow faster than any other wine varietal, increasing by 74% in 2011 alone. You can pick up a bottle of Gallo Moscato for about $5.00. How can you resist?

    *The Gallo moscato is so inexpensive because the grapes are grown in Australia, where land is plentiful and cheap.

    WHAT IS MOSCATO WINE?

    Moscato (mow-SKAH-toe) or Muscat (MOO-skaht) is a white wine grape. The wines, slightly sweet and low in alcohol, are often served with dessert. However, their ability to pair with other foods—and Americans’ penchant for sweet beverages like soft drinks and White Zinfandel—is bringing Moscato to the forefront in the U.S.

     

    The next time you want a glass of white wine, reach for the Moscato. Photo courtesy Gallo Family Vineyards.

     

    According to Uncork.biz, the Muscat grape is the world’s oldest cultivated grape variety. It may have originated in the sultanate of Muscat and Oman† on the southeast Arabian Peninsula.

    The Muscat grape found its way to Rome and was brought by the Roman Legions to Gaul (encompassing present-day France). Over the centuries, it was planted in regions as disperse as the Crimea (Russia) and South Africa. Early Spanish and Italian immigrants brought it to America. In 1844, it arrived in Australia—the source of the grapes for the Gallo Family Muscato.

    The Moscato grape is widely grown in Italy, where it is vinified into still and sparkling wines. Asti Spumante and its semi-sparkling cousin, Moscato d’Asti, are made in the Piedmont region, the northwest corner of Italy.

    Moscato is light bodied and low in alcohol—meaning that most people can have a second glass without overdoing it. The wine’s perfumed nose and lush palate burst with the seductive flavors of peach, honey and citrus. The fresh aciditity and delicately sweetness enable it to pair well with a broad variety of foods.

    †Muscat and Oman was a country that encompassed the present day Sultanate of Oman and parts of the United Arab Emirates.

     

    Moscato with a dessert of fresh fruit and a mascarpone dip. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    13 OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE MOSCATO

  • BRUNCH. If you’re looking for a brunch wine, look no further. Moscato pairs well with breakfast pastries, eggs, pancakes and other brunch foods.
  • COCKTAIL MUNCHIES. Charcuterie, prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks and olives provide a salty counterpoint to the slightly sweet wine. Simple bruschetta is also a perfect pairing.
  • CRUDITÉS. The crispness of raw vegetables pairs well with Moscato.
  • CHICKEN & FISH. Moscato is delicious with lighter chicken and fish dishes.
  • CREAM SAUCES. Mild cream sauces pair well with Moscato.
  • DESSERT. While moscato is far less sweet than dessert wines such as Muscat Beaumes de Venise or Sauternes, it has enough residual sugar to work with many desserts. We had it last night with cheesecake and the night before with sorbet. Be sure to try it with biscotti, creamy desserts and nut-based desserts.
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  • FRUIT. A snack or dessert of fresh fruit—or a fruit pie—is an occasion for Moscato. Peaches are a perfect match with this peachy wine.
  • HAM. Here’s another fine sweet-and-salty pairing, whether it’s a baked ham dinner, a ham sandwich or ham-based canapés.
  • PICNICS & POOLSIDE. Moscato is an ideal wine to sip poolside or relaxing at a picnic.
  • SALADS. Want a glass of wine with your lunch or dinner salad? Grab the Moscato.
  • SHELLFISH. Sweeter wines like Moscato are a favorite pairing with crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops and a raw bar.
  • SPICY FOODS. Gewürtztraminer and Riesling have long been recommended wines for spicy foods. The slight sweetness complements the heat and spice. Now, add Moscato to the list, to pair with Asian, Indian and other hot cuisines, along with spicy Western dishes such as Spaghetti Arrabbiata.
  • WINE & CHEESE. Uncork a bottle to serve with cheese. The peach and citrus flavors are a great match for soft or hard cheeses, from Brie (including baked Brie) to Pecorino Romano. Serve it with the dessert cheese plate: Brie and figs with a glass of Moscato is simple yet sophisticated.
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    Do you have a favorite way to serve Moscato? Let us know.

      

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