If the surge in popularity of this variety over the past few years is any indication, more and more people are saying, "Make mine moscato." Moscato bianco is an ancient grape planted across the Italian peninsula. In the region of Piedmont around the city of Asti, production has increased by 60 fold over the last century. While other areas like California have entered the fray in order to meet the increasing demand, the original Italian has a freshness and fruit character that's hard to duplicate. Low in alcohol (typically around 6 percent), lightly sweet and fizzy, moscato is the perfect choice for any Valentine's Day celebration. It also makes for a great Sunday brunch wine.
2011 Luigi Voghera Moscato d'Asti, $16.99
The aromas in this wine are rich and concentrated, with honeyed peach and Asian pear backed by a touch of mineral that's more typical of a good chablis. The palate is definitely on the rich side, as well, with sweet, very ripe peach and apricot fruit flavors that are balanced by a crisp hit of fizz.
2011 Maura Perrone Ca del Re Moscato d'Asti, $14.99
This well-balanced wine opens with a mix of honeyed peach and melon aromas that are clean, lively and colored by an herbal hint of basil and thyme. It offers a light but persistent tongue-tickling fizziness. Sweet peach plays against crisp citrus, and a touch of lemon zest comes through on the finish.
2012 Sori Gramella Tintero Moscato d'Asti, $15.99
Bright, tropical fruit dominates the nose on this wine, along with nuanced apple and floral grapefruit aromas. The sweet but lively fruit flavors taste something like a watermelon Jolly Rancher with a palate-cleansing hit of acidity coming through on the finish. This is definitely the most effervescent of the three, with tiny bubbles from the first glass to the last.