Recently fellow wineblogger Kimberly and I wrote back and forth about the idea of "gateway wines": easy, inexpensive, non-threatening bottles that are a good way to introduce people to the world of wine, like Vinho Verde and Brachetto d'Acqui. The names may look odd at first, but they're much better starter wines than White Zinfandel.
One of my first "wow!" moments with wine came on board a KLM flight over the Atlantic. I was 20, but crossing international waters, on a Dutch plane... nobody asked for ID. With the cheese course after dinner, a gorgeous flight attendant introduced me to this slightly fizzy Italian wine called Moscato d'Asti. The golden shade of straw in sunlight, sweet, bubbly, a little tart but a pure joy--I was in love. The wine was pretty good too.
A few months later, when I was of legal age in the States, I introduced a few friends to the wine and successfully deployed it on a couple of dates (perfect with brie and strawberries after midnight, for any fellow bachelors reading). It was an instant crowd pleaser, and for people that weren't crazy about wine to begin with, something that was a little sweet, low on alcohol, but actually produced with quality in mind was a positive experience.
Alas, times and tastes change, and aside from sporadic encounters at a wine tasting or two, I mostly forgot about that wine.
This selection isn't from Italy, but Jacob's Creek in Australia is introducing a wine made in the same style as the Moscato d'Asti. The 2010 Jacob's Creek Moscato is only $7, clocks in at a mere 8% abv, and has a convenient screwcap. Party and wedding planners, take note. There's a dominant nose of peach nectar and pineapple with matching flavors. Tart, light frizzante bubbles, medium sweet with good acidity to keep it from being cloying. Overall pretty well balanced, and a great bargain.
The press release came with some cocktail ideas, but I threw together one of my own, pictured on the left side of the photo.
Benito's Moscato Refresher
2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Orange Juice
6 Fresh Raspberries
Moscato to cover
Muddle the raspberries in the bottom of a glass. Add ice, and then add the gin and orange juice. Stir thoroughly, then pour in Moscato to fill the glass. Stir briefly just to combine the ingredients and serve. It's a refreshing punch-like beverage that's quick to make, tastes great, and doesn't rely on exotic ingredients. Don't want to mess with the fresh raspberries? Cheat and use a little melted sorbet.
Note: This wine was received as a sample.