Spumante (also called Asti wine or Asti Spumante) is a wine for nearly everyone. Don't like dry wines? Don't like the bitter taste of alcohol? Enjoy bubbles? This crisp Italian wine pleases nearly everyone.
Feel free to learn about the history of Spumante from any number of websites. I won't subject you to redundancy here. I have two brief stories about why it's important to me, and it is to those that I'll subject you.
- During the second World War, my grandfather flew bombers over the European front. Stationed in Italy, he did what most young men at war did - he drank. One of the local beverages was Spumante, which was (to my knowledge) then not imported to the United States. He brought some back, and my family has been consuming the sweet effervescent drink ever since.
- When I traveled to Italy as part of a summer class in 2003, one of the first nights there, a group of girls and I decided to head out to eat at an upscale local restaurant. We all wanted wine, but since none of us spoke Italian, no one could figure out the difference between the wines on the menu. I was up for anything, but two girls said that if the wine wasn't sweet, they wouldn't drink it. I told them I recognized "Asti Spumante" on the menu, and assured them it was sweet. One girl argued, "I know all about wine, and Spumante is a red wine." I informed her that she must not, in fact, know much about wine as it is not. After more irritation, I finally said that I would buy the bottle, and anyone who enjoyed it could contribute toward it, and those who didn't enjoy it didn't have to. Sure enough, the wine was pale, and the girls contributed to the bottle (not her, though, since she then claimed it wasn't "sweet enough").
There are many brands of Spumante available in the United States. It even comes in pink! This is an inexpensive beverage. A bottle could run anywhere from $4 to $20 (and I'm sure there are some that cost more). Feel free to grab a bottle in the $8 to $12 range, and don't worry that you're getting the lesser sort.
Here's probably my favorite brand: Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante
I do, however, advise against the brand below, unless you're mixing the Spumante with orange juice or cranberry juice.
Spumante is NOT the Italian version of champagne. It doesn't taste the same, the process isn't the same, the grapes aren't the same... you get the idea. It is a fun, fizzy wine all its own. Enjoy!