Well worth noting is how uniquely made this dessert wine is. You're sure to be roused after the very first sip of the stuff, which is called Carlo Pellegrino Passito di Pantelleria, so take a moment and consider this. It's produced by drying out and then vinifying Sicily's Zibibbo brand of Muscat grape (it turns out that there are many, many different varieties of Muscats, which surprised me).
The Oxford Companion to Wine describes Moscato Passito-di-Pantelleria, a DOC appellation, as Italy's finest dessert wine -- lush, rich and more in the true dessert style than the less reputable, generic label simply called Moscato di Pantelleria ("passito" is the Italian term for dried grape wines).
The book goes on: "...Passito di Pantelleria must have at least 14 per cent alcohol and 110 g/l residual sugar, although a current trend is to seek a more decadently sweet style, raisining the grapes for up to 30 days and arriving at close to 140 g/l of residual sugar."
Aside from the special care, this Moscato also has behind it a fanciful legend from antiquity. This Italian wine file talks about Passito di Pantelleria's divinity and its relationship to ambrosia.
I drank my Moscato with friends, which is a good idea since it is both too decadent and too deceptively alcoholic for the solo drinker. The dining room attached to my kitchen seemed to render itself a swanky drawing room in the presence of this wine's golden hues and storied history. The transformation commanded the attention of my camera lens.
TASTING NOTES FROM THE PANTELLERIA CHAIR
This wine has the delicious scent of orange blossoms. It is viscous and full on the palate with strong notes of apricot and tangerine and hints of cardamom. Drinking this moscato offers neat mouth-coating feeling, which is quite pleasurable. But it's not too syrupy either: a lightly bracing acidity makes the wine a refreshing expression.
And when served with anything as simple as a bit of chocolate, this wine makes for an exotic and fruity complement to the end of your meal.
Pantelleria, Sicilia, Italia. 15.5%