Monday, November 12, 2012

Naked Vine One-Hitter: Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Moscato

Another offering from Robert Mondavi thanks to the folks at Folsom & Associates – this time their "Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi" series.

I’ve written a few times about Moscato d’Asti, for many years the most common version of the wine available. From the Piedmont region in Italy, this sweet, aromatic wine was a niche product for quite a while. Over the last couple of years, fans of sweeter wines have latched onto Moscato, making it the second most popular white varietal behind chardonnay. California production of Moscato has almost tripled, fueled by this demand and hip-hop shout-outs. (“I'm a’sip Moscato/And you 'gon lose them pants,” raps Wale.)  

While I can’t speak to its aphrodisiac qualities, Moscato is a marvelous brunch wine. Brunch is largely filled with mishmashes of strong flavors. Sausage next to salsa next to asparagus? Very possible. In my estimation, a sweet, relatively uncomplicated wine like Moscato works well. The food is the star of brunch. Wine just needs to taste good while staying out of the way. When I drink Moscato, what I’m looking for is the quality of the sweetness – is it more of a “honey” sweet or a “sugar” sweet. I prefer the former.

Woodbridge’s version does have the honey sweetness. Lots of peach and pear flavors ride on a full, slightly glycerine-thick body. The nose is peach-blossom floral. The finish is very peachy, with just a little bit of bitter right at the end. If you’re having this with food at all, you won’t notice that. Like all Moscato, it is an extremely flexible food wine. Everything from charcuterie to hash with egg on top go just fine alongside.

I always enjoy when wineries send along suggested pairings, recipes, and the like to go alongside the vino. On this occasion, The folks at Folsom & Associates sent a recipe using this wine as an ingredient for making peach preserves. The recipe sounded fabulous, but I don’t use a lot of jam and such. (I’ll still include the recipe below…)

However, one of the other included suggestions was to use it for pickling. I sliced some cucumbers into spears and pickled them with equal parts Moscato and champagne vinegar, with a hot pepper, salt, and dill thrown in. You know what? It turned out to be downright delicious. If you have some leftover Moscato, consider it!

For the price, $8, it’s a decent-enough wine. It’s not going to blow you away, but it doesn’t have to. I think I still prefer  the Italian version with its slight effervescence, but I wouldn’t turn down the Woodbridge if you poured it for me.

Sweet Peach and Moscato Preserves
Styling + Recipes by Candice Kumai
Photo by Emma Chao

8 Ripe peaches, sliced ½" thick
3 Cups sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Rind of 1 lemon, peeled into large pieces using vegetable peeler
1 cup Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Moscato
½ (3 oz.) packages liquid sure gel pectin
1 Tablespoon mint, sliced into thin ribbons
6-7 Sterile ½ pint mason jars with lids

1. In a medium stockpot, combine peaches, sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind and Moscato, bringing to a boil. 
2. Stirring gently, reduce to a slow simmer over medium heat. Cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Some foam may appear at the top of the pot, using a spider or a slotted spoon skim off the foam and discard. Remove lemon rind with a fork.
4. Add mint and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and add the liquid pectin stirring constantly. Return to a full rolling boil and cook for 1 minute. Quickly and very carefully ladle the preserves into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 in head space at the top.
6. Place the lids on top of the jam jars. Carefully twist on the tops.
7. To Seal: Gently, place the jars in a large stockpot full of boiling water. Make sure that the jars are fully submerged in the boiling water. Let it sit in the simmering water for 10-15 minutes to set. Jars should seal by then. If not, they will seal while cooling.
8. Remove jars after 10-15 minutes, set aside to cool and set. You will hear a “pop” noise when jars are sealed.
9. Allow jars to set for 24 hours before opening.

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