Asti Spumante, now simply known as Asti, is non-Champagne sparkling wine, produced in the Turin region of Italy. Asti is very popular with new wine drinkers. Asti is Italy's second most produced wine. It is a semi sweet to sweet sparkling wine. Many people prefer asti to French Champagne because of asti's sweetness and easy drinking qualities.
Asti, being a DOCG wine, can only be produced within a certain growing area. The DOCG production zone for Asti is mostly in the Province of Asti and partly within the Provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo. To conform with the DOCG all Asti must be made from 100% Moscato Bianco grape. It must also be fermented to a minimum alcohol level. This varies with each vintage and is usually between 7% and 9.5%.
Asti gets its fizziness from a single fermentation. (unlike champagne which has a secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle). This single fermentation takes place in sealed and pressurized stainless steel tanks. Carbon dioxide, the by product of fermentation, is trapped within these tanks and dissolves into the wine to give Asti its famous bubbles.
The first bottle of Asti is thought to have been produced by Carlo Gancia, around 1870. He studied the Champagne method of production, and produced his first wine in the town of Canelli along the river Belbo.
Post world war II Asti saw a surge in popularity in the United States bought back their taste for this light sweet sparkling wine. With this increased demand many producers turned to a bulk wine production method called the “Charmat method”. This method makes the wine sparkling through a closed fermentation in a tank versus a secondary fermentation the individual bottle that the wine is to be sold in.
Asti is mostly produced in the Province of Asti and partly within the Provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo. Here the large concentration of rolling hills provide ample space for planting of Moscato Bianco vines.
Modern Asti wines tend to have the characteristic “muskiness” of a Muscat based wine but are not sugary sweet, they tend to be rather fruity with tastes of ripe peaches and apricots. Despite being sweet Asti is acidic enough to be drunk with such food as spicy Asian, and salads.
Asti is best consumed very young as it tends to rapidly lose its floral, fresh notes and can become heavy and richer in body.