Resuscitate the dead of winter with delightful wine
This time of winter can be discouraging with all the cold temps, snow, and knowing spring is a long way off.
We are at the stage of winter tolerance where our bodies have acclimated to the cold by now, but our attitude needs a little adjusting.
While poets fantasize about winter being the time to dream, we, being the more practical type, want something tangible to put our hands on. I offer some delightful wines that lift spirits with each sip; frizzante wines.
Frizzante wines have small bubbles that offer a refreshing tingle while helping mask the wine's sweetness. They are also considered to be less effervescent than champagne. People who find champagne to be too "fizzy" and expensive may find that a frizzante wine is a good alternative choice for just lifting one's spirits.
One such wine is moscato, a fun-to-drink, pleasantly sweet and slightly effervescent budget-sparing wine
This wine has exploded in popularity — not so much from heavy marketing or pushes from sommeliers, but from the hip-hop culture.
It has become popular as an aperitif, or drinking on its own, and because it is low in alcohol, is very easy to drink at just about any occasion you can come up with.
Its birthplace is the Piedmont in Italy, a region is also well known for Barolo wine. In addition to the natural sweetness and low alcohol, and tickling your nose, this muscat grape is also used as a fresh table grape, and in making raisins.
Growing at a market rate of 25 percent a year for the past 3 years, moscato has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, Twitter is abuzz with references to this delicious wine. Supposedly, the taste appeals to the younger ones amongst us — chronologically speaking of course, as this old timer finds it enjoyable as well.
For some of the older generation that might think it too sweet to enjoy, the slight fizz nicely minimizes the sweetness for full enjoyment.
Being a white wine, it should be served chilled for about 30-40 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. Too cold simply masks the tastes you would be looking for.
When considering a moscato, look for Santo D'Asti Moscato, which has the perfect balance between the sweet and fruity quality of the Muscat grape.
Moscato D'Asti is a frizzante wine made from the soft pressing of the Moscato Bianco grape in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is often served as a dessert wine, but may be enjoyed as an aperitif as well. Wine experts typically recommend that Moscato D'Asti be consumed within two years of the vintage.
If the bitter cold of North Dakota winters and chilled white wine completely turn you off, there are plenty of others with higher alcohol that will warm your insides and can be served warm.
Madeira is one such fortified wine, which warms the lips with each sip and the throat with each swallow.
Another would be a nebbiolo grape variety, a fussy grape with violets and herbal notes that will be discussed more next week.
Raise a toast — "Cin cin!" — Italian "For all things good for you!" — and celebrate another day closer to spring's arrival.
Ron Smith, a retired NDSU Extension horticulturist, writes weekly about his love of wine and its history. Readers can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.