Typically enjoyed as a dessert wine, Moscato can also be served as an aperitif, afternoon thirst quencher or Sunday brunch accompaniment. As a "frizzante," Moscato is not as bubbly as the related sparking wine Asti Spumante, but it is still popular for its sweet, fresh vibrancy and fruit-forward flavours. When making Moscato, emulate some of the methods of the premier producers of Moscato. A vineyard in Italy, for example, might use 30-year-old vines at high altitude on calcareous soil to yield 100,000 bottles or more.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Large sealed tanks for fermentation
Harvest the grapes. In Italy, this might be in early September. To make Moscato, you need the proper grape. Moscato is one of the oldest grape varietals in the world with many sub-varieties. In the southeastern part of the Piedmont region in Italy from which Moscato d'Asti hails, the local grape is Moscato Bianco or Moscato di Canelli. The Moscato family of grapes is characterised by an intense grape aroma and orange blossom nose.
Press and filter the grapes. For Moscato wines, freshness is key, so press the grapes as soon as they are picked. To halt any premature fermentation, store the resulting must at near freezing temperatures and vinify in batches as the need arises.
Vinify. This process will take about a month in an autoclave, or sealed tank, kept at about 15 degrees C. Warm the must and inoculate it with yeast in large sealed tanks to start the fermentation process. The tanks are necessary to preserve the CO2, and therefore, fizziness, that is formed during vinification. When the desired alcohol content and residual sugar level are reached--in the case of Moscato, about 5.5 per cent alcohol and 150 grams of residual sugar per litre--rapidly stop the fermentation process by chilling the wine. Filter out the yeast, bottle and cork the wine. This might take place in January, or on an as-needed basis. Since this is Moscato, which is slightly less effervescent than spumante wines, use a regular rather than a wired-down cork.
Tips and warnings
- You are looking for an end-product that is green to lush gold in colour, redolent of white peach, mineral, white flowers, citrus flowers and lively crisp brightness on the palate. The carbonation will be about half that of regular sparkling wine.
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