When I was in cooking school, I learned how to make zabaglione (zah-buh-yoh-neh), a fancy-sounding Italian dessert that, because of its simplicity and versatility, became one of my dinner party staples. There are only three ingredients needed to make it: egg yolks, sugar, and wine (four, if you count a strong arm!).

Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti DOCG, an essential ingredient to zabaglione
Photo by Lisa Denning. Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti DOCG, an essential ingredient to zabaglione

Zabaglione is a type of custard served all over Italy but its origins are in Piedmont, home of the prized white truffle, hazelnuts, and Barolo wine. In this region of northern Italy, zabaglione is often served spooned over hazelnut cake with a glass of the locally produced Moscato d’Asti, a highly fragrant, sweet wine with a delicate effervescence and flavors of nectarine, honey, and peach.

While traveling in Piedmont, I spent an incredible evening at the boutique hotel Palas Cerequio. This chic resort, owned by renowned Barolo winemaker Michele Chiarlo, includes a small restaurant that serves traditional dishes in a peaceful atmosphere with views of the surrounding hillside vineyards. In addition to producing red wines, Michele Chiarlo makes a Moscasto d’Asti called Nivole, named after the Italian word for “clouds,” an homage to the wine’s delicate finesse.

Chef making zabaglione
Photo by Lisa Denning. Making zabaglione requires beating the egg yolks for at least 10 minutes.

Before dinner, the chef showed us the proper way to make zabaglione. The key to making a good one is to place the bowl of eggs, sugar, and wine over a gently simmering pan of water and to whisk the mixture vigorously the whole time (I warned you — you need strong arm muscles!).

It was no surprise that the chef used Moscato d’Asti Nivole to make the zabaglione and, later in the evening, we were served a slice of hazelnut cake with the creamy custard and a glass of — yes, you guessed it — Moscato d’Asti. As they say in Italy, Perfetto!

Note: My trip to Piedmont was sponsored by the Consorzio dell’Asti D.O.C.G.

Find out more: Three Reasons Moscato d’Asti Should Be On Your Holiday Table.

Moscato d’Asti Zabaglione

Zabaglione with hazelnut cake
Photo by Lisa Denning. Egg yolks in Piedmont are dark yellow, making zabaglione richly colored.

Serves 4


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Moscato d’Asti


  1. Put egg yolks and sugar into a large nonreactive glass bowl. Whisk together until the mixture is creamy and the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Set bowl over a medium-sized pot of gently simmering water (the bowl should be at least 2 inches above water) and vigorously whisk eggs and sugar together for a few minutes. Gradually add wine, little by little, whisking constantly.
  3. Continue whisking until mixture is light and foamy, almost tripled in volume, and holds soft peaks, about 10 minutes. (Do not let the egg mixture get too hot or it may coagulate and be ruined). The sauce is ready when it forms soft peaks.
  4. Remove from heat and serve immediately, spooned over cake, pastry or fresh fruit. It can also be folded into whipped cream and place in the freezer for frozen custard. Note: you can put it in the refrigerator for a few hours and serve cold or reheated.

The original post by Lisa Denning can be found on her blog, The Wine Chef.


Lisa Denning’s love of food, wine and spirits has led her on the path to many edible adventures. Attending the International Culinary Center in New York City was the first step on this journey, followed by jobs in the food business. In 2012, she began to focus on wine and spirits as a sales associate at Sherry-Lehmann, one of the oldest wine retailers in the U.S. In 2016, Denning founded The Wine Chef, now an award-winning blog with content devoted to wine and food pairings. Additionally, Denning writes for Grape Collective where she is known for her winemaker interviews. For delicious food and wine pairings, follow her instagram @nycrestaurants.

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