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• Wonderful floral aromas of peach and apricot with a hint of tangerine. It has flavors peach tea, citrus fruit with a touch of white pepper. A excellent cocktail alternative to moscato.
The Wine Curmudgeon constantly surveys the wine landscape of this great land and generally doesn’t like what he sees. Like any good American, however, he mostly keeps his opinions to himself. A recent development in the wine habits of younger wine-loving citizens has rankled The Curmudgeon’s chain so much that he must throw his two cents in the fountain of public discourse.
Now, The Wine Curmudgeon appreciates all types of wine: sparkling, white, red, pink, sweet, fortified. You name it; he’s tasted it, trying his level best to understand the whys and hows of the wine’s making.
Take Moscato d’Asti, for example, a fun, simple, adaptable dessert wine from northwestern Italy. In his days as a sommelier, The Wine Curmudgeon used various Moscatos d’Asti to put a fragrant exclamation point at the end of a wine dinner. Guests loved the gentle effervescence and honey-like sweetness of these wines, not to mention their low alcohol levels. The Wine Curmudgeon loved the moscatos made in the Asti style because they worked great as a wine pairing and these inexpensive wines kept his bottle costs down—an important aspect of choosing four or five wines for a dinner.
For those of you who are wondering where The Wine Curmudgeon is going with this, he’d like to point out one key word in the previous paragraph. That word is “dessert.” Dessert wines offer a delectable complement to a dinner’s final act. They allow diners to revel in yet another scintillating aspect of taste in a multi-course dining event. A dessert wine spaces out the dessert course and prevents guests from wolfishly devouring a dinner’s sweet finale.
Here’s the point: Dessert wines, which are sipped slowly and in small amounts, are enjoyed with dessert, not in the back of a limo or as refreshment on the dance floor and certainly not with non-sweet portions of meal. Sweet, dessert wines clash violently with things like steak, pasta, mushrooms and generally foods not considered dessert.
Where in the name of André Tchelistcheff did kids in their 20s get the idea to raise the roof with a bottle of Moscato d’Asti!? As they did in The Wine Curmudgeon’s day, young people listen to their music and take cues from those making the music. Somewhere along the line, for whatever reason, hip-hop artists started saluting the virtues of moscato in their songs and “poof” we have a new “it” wine.
The recent groundswell of appreciation can be traced back to the words of hip-hop artist’s Trey Songz’ song “I Invented Sex”:
It’s a celebration
Clap clap bravo.
Lobster and shrimp and a glass of moscato…
finish the whole bottle.
It’s not The Wine Curmudgeon’s job to point out that moscato and bottle don’t rhyme. It is his job to help wine consumers—young or old, hip or terminally uncool—appreciate the magic of wine by making well-considered suggestions on its consumption. Moscato does not go with lobster and shrimp and ranks among his last choices for a celebratory drink.
This is a battle The Wine Curmudgeon is going to lose. When Canadian hip-hop star Drake sang the above lyrics at the 2010 Grammies, the die was cast. Moscatos, especially moscatos from Asti, Italy, are and will likely be the hot wine for the foreseeable future. A colleague informed me recently that Atlanta is the top market for moscato consumption and is seeing double-digit sales increases.
Always the optimist, The Wine Curmudgeon does see a glimmer of hope. He is begrudgingly happy to see young adults discovering wine. How it came to pass that they picked up a tulip-shaped wine glass instead of a shot glass hardly matters. He also sees some kids who “get it”: moscato is for dessert and a bit too sweet as cocktail wine. The Wine Curmudgeon has been tickled to introduce reformed moscato drinkers to off-dry rieslings as their wine of choice.
Late harvest and spätelese rieslings from the U.S. and Germany can offer moscato lovers a kiss of comforting sweetness, but will not drown them in a sea of sugar. With the veil of sweetness lowered a bit, newbie wine lovers can begin to see what The Wine Curmudgeon sees: a wine world full of aromas and tastes full of fruit, flowers and spices. This multidimensional wine world is so breathtaking, it has inspired The Wine Curmudgeon to write a hip-hop song to reach out to today’s young adults.
Here’s a verse from Too Sweet to Swig All Night.
Drinkin’ wine is magic.
An empty glass is tragic.
Oy, Oy, Oy-vey!
Drinking dessert wine before its time,
Ought to be a dog-gone crime.
Eat your heart out Drake!
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator and a wine consultant for Tower Beer, Wine & Spirits. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.