A wall of glass windows and sunlight outside revealed green hills lined with vineyards, the vines ready for harvest or recently picked clean. The smell of eggs and bacon filled the room; the breakfast/brunch preparations were already underway when we arrived. Bottles of Moscato d’Asti were opened and glasses clinked.
This, I thought, was the kind of experience people dream about, read about, and remember for years to come. I was in the home of Paolo Demarie, a third generation Italian wine maker in Piedmont, drinking wine made from grapes from his vineyards. Not a bad start to my trip.
After passing my WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) wine exam last summer, I connected with American expat Valerie, of Girls Gotta Drink, for some ideas how to best experience Italy’s Piedmont wine country. Valerie suggested a visit to Demarie for a tour of the new, eco-friendly winery, and a food and wine pairing Val coined, Moscato For Breakfast. Food and wine pairings are my favorite – it just makes sense to me, especially here in Italy, where wine is considered food.
What the heck is Moscato For Breakfast
It’s a delightful pairing of British food and Italian wine. Pair Moscato d’ Asti with a traditional full English breakfast and you’ve got Moscato for Breakfast, though it was really time for brunch when we arrived.
Are you wondering how this happened? Why were we eating an English breakfast in Italy? Simple. Valerie is married to a British expat, Evan. It’s inevitable that when one lives in another country long enough cultures blend. In this case, it was a very tasty blend indeed!
So what exactly is a full English breakfast?
Homemade baked beans, sausage, bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and your choice of ketchup or brown sauce, which is very popular in England. It is not a traditional food pairing, but makes perfect sense if you think of it in terms of what Americans call a Champagne Brunch, only in this case, the Champagne is replaced by Moscato d’ Asti. If that doesn’t make sense to you, think sweet and savory. In my opinion, this is what Moscato was really meant for.
Moscato is an Italian wine made from the muscat grape, which can be used to produce a variety of sparkling wines. Moscato d’ Asti is a frizzante, because it is not given a second fermentation like champagne or spumante, therefore the bubbles are gentle. This makes it sweeter but lower in alcohol content (5 % on average) – much better as a drink served for brunch or lunch. You can drink a lot of it without worrying about a headache or waking up in the wrong bed.
After breakfast, Paolo took us on a tour of the winery, which was bustling due to the harvest of Barbera grapes coming in from the vineyards.
Then, we were on to the tasting room for an extensive tasting of his award-winning Roero wines. The great benefit of wines from the Roero, compared to wines from the Langhe (a more famous area known for Barolo, which is made from the Nebbiolo grape), is that you can drink them very young. No need to lay them aside for years on end. They are also a bit lighter and easier drink than wines from the Langhe.
I tried the 2013 Roero Arneis DOCG, a lovely and fragrant white wine – liked it! Then, on to the Roero Riserva 2012 – 100% Nebbiolo and was a favorite with Decanter, and who am I to argue? I also tried the Barbaresco 2010, and the Bricetto DOCG. Not included in the tasting was the Roero Arneis DOCG Spumante Extra Brut. I love sparkling wines, and was super curious about this one, so I purchased a bottle to go. I later drank it with a nice pumpkin risotto and Branzino – however the Roero Arneis would have been great, too.
For more tasting notes, click here.
If you want to experience a Moscato for Breakfast in Italy , you can fly into Milan’s Malpensa airport or Turin, where you can rent a car and drive to the wine country.
I did not rent a car because I spent my time in the wine country with guides. However, for a bit of additional exploring, I did wish I had a car. You can also rent scooters if you feel adventurous. Now that I know the area a little, I think I might do that next time I visit.
To get there without a car I flew into Milan, took the train to Turin, spent the night in Turin, then took the train to Asti.
Even if you don’t make it to Piedmont, you can try a nice Moscato d’Asti with your next brunch. A good one will only set you back about 15 USD. You’ve a chance to impress all your friends that you even know of such a thing and educate them at the same time. That’s what friends are for.
What to do think? Have you tried Moscato d’ Asti?
Many thanks to Paolo DeMarie for the tour, tasting, and breakfast, and Valerie of Girls Gotta Drink for sharing her time and expertise with me.