Six Fun Facts About Asti Spumante

Asti Spumante may not be the world’s most popular Italian sparkling wine. However, it has a history that stretches back deeper than almost any wine in the world. While most are happy to enjoy Prosecco, as we should because it is a remarkable Italian wine, many will point to Asti Spumante as being a better, or at least more important, wine.

Why is that?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why so many love this wine as we share some interesting facts about Asti Spumante that you may not know.

Fact #1 – It’s Made Using The World’s Oldest Grape Variety

Asti Spumante is made using the Moscato grape, which is part of the famous Muscat family. Taking in over 200 grapes, this family is believed to be the oldest wine grape in history.

Records of the use of the grapes in this family date back to the days of the ancient Egyptians and Persians. This means the grape has a history that goes back over 5,000 years, at the very least. Grapes from the Muscat family were also widely used in ancient Greece and Rome, meaning this grape has endured for millennia.

Of course, not all of these ancient grapes were used to make sparkling wine. The process for doing so did not even exist for several thousand of the years that we know grapes of the Muscat family were used. But the fact that the grape has lasted so long, and has been used in so many different varieties of wine, is a clear indicator of its quality.

People love grapes of the Muscat family, whether that’s people today or people from thousands of years ago.

Fact #2 – Spumante Doesn’t Just Refer to the Sparkling

As those who know their Italian wines well can tell you, Spumante is a label that is attached to many Italian sparkling wines. Naturally, you’d assume the same is the case for Asti Spumante. The wine sparkles, thus it is a Spumante.

And while this is true, Asti Spumante is one of the few sparkling wines that have a second reason for the Spumante label. Asti Spumante also tells you about the region the wine is made in.

Fact #3 – The Wine Was Invented in 1870

Though the grape variety used to make Asti Spumante is one of the oldest in the world, the wine wasn’t actually invented until 1870. An Italian producer named Carlo Gancia had the idea for a sparkling wine made using Moscato when he was studying in France. Gancia started making his version of sparkling wine in a town called Canelli, where it quickly achieved a level of renown for its high quality.

The wine’s reputation was cemented during World War II thanks to the American soldiers that were stationed in the Asti region. They developed a taste for the Moscato grape and the light wines it could create, leading to many bringing bottles back home with them. Their love for this wonderful wine spread throughout their country, leading to a skyrocketing demand that set Asti Spumante on the course that it is on today.

Fact #4 – Asti Spumante May Be The True King of Piedmont

Piedmont is perhaps most famous for being the home of Barolo.

The King of Wines has a history dating back for centuries, which we have documented in this blog before. But it may be time for the king to pass on its crown to Asti Spumante.


For an average vintage, Asti Spumante producers make 10 times as much wine as Barolo producers. The sheer popularity of this wonderful sparkling Italian wine means its production requires more land in Piedmont than the King of Wines.

Of course, volume is not the only indicator of success. Many will point out that Barolo being produced in such limited quantities means you can always feel confident about the wine’s quality. Still, there is clearly a huge disparity in production that makes Asti Spumante a genuine contender for the crown.

Fact #5 – It’s Made Using the Charmat Method

Unlike Champagne, which is made using the traditional method in which secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle, Asti Spumante is made using the Charmat method. The wine is placed in a large tank, where it achieves the sparkling effect that makes the wine so enjoyable.

Interestingly, this production method actually harmed Asti Spumante’s reputation when it first began to build popularity. Though the American and English markets, in particular, took a liking to the wine, some commentators during the mid-20th century labelled it a “poor man’s Champagne”.

Thankfully, this somewhat elitist reputation seemed to disappear when the wine received DOCG status in 1993. That, coupled with the efforts of producers to reduce the wine’s sweetness somewhat, has led to Asti Spumante no longer being derided for its production methods.

Fact #6 – DOCG Regulations Helped Increase Quality

As is always the case when a wine carries the DOCG label, the regulations the organization puts in place help to increase the quality of the wine.

All Asti Spumante is made using 100% Moscato Bianco grapes, which means it always reflects the history that has contributed so readily to the wine’s popularity. What’s more, the DOCG label is only granted to wines made by producers who limit themselves to 10 tonnes of grapes per hectare of land. This stipulation helps to eliminate the old reputation that Asti Spumante had for being a mass-produced wine that couldn’t measure up to the standards of Prosecco or Champagne.

The Final Word

Despite Asti Spumante’s enduring popularity, the wine endured a critical battering that lasted for much of the second half of the 20th century.

The negative reputation that came from this is unfair, especially when we consider the quality of the wine today. Asti Spumante is a true treasure in the Italian wine pantheon, which is why we want to show you just how good this wine can be.

But we’ve said enough.

All that’s left now is for you to try the wine yourself. Happily, you’ll find plenty of great examples of this gorgeous wine in the Xtrawine collection. If you want to give it a try without spending a great deal of money, Ca Bianca Asti Spumante is an excellent choice at less than €15 per bottle.


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