Douja dOr- Asti, Italy
Each September, the town of Asti, Italy holds the Douja d’Or festival that is a celebration of Piedmont food and wine all leading up to the famous horse race, Palio di Asti. This ten day event opens with the Festival della Sagre Asigiane and ends with the Palio with numerous events celebrating food, wine, and traditions in between.
Douja d’Or, pronounced “do-ya door” (fun fact: there is no letter “j” in Italian so when we saw this we were baffled- this is a dialect known as Piedmontese and it merges Italian and French together!) is a national wine competition for Italy’s DOC and DOCGs wine regions. The symbol of the festival is a golden jug- “douja” (an ancient terracotta jug used for wine) is the jug and “d’Or” is golden= golden jug! The prizes also prominently display this symbol.
In addition to declaring winners of this competition, guests of the festival have the opportunity to try wine from all over Italy, with special attention to Piedmont wine, and can purchase bottles as well.
While most of the crowd followed the parade into the Festival della Sagre, we decided to explore an area of the festival we had not yet seen- the wine portion, Douja d’Or. As we entered the tent, it took several minutes for us to orient ourselves as we stared at countless shelves of wine.
Overwhelmed by the choices is an understatement- there were over 400 wines to choose from! Once we came to the realization that trying “all the wines” as initially intended was impossible, we went through our wine guide and picked (mostly at random) from there. After getting a fancier tasca del vino with the tasting, we purchased tickets for wine.
There were several tiers of wine tickets and each ticket you purchased was exchanged for a sampling of wine in that tier. The three tiers of wine options have corresponding tickets that range from 1.50 euro to 3.5 euro so everything is extremely affordable.
We tried several different regions of Italian wine while munching on bread sticks- all of which were delicious. In addition to the tasting, there was a full wine store that had incredible bargains on bottles of wine, but we were sad to learn (after a series of charades) that they did not ship.
In retrospect, I think if we purchased wine and found a post office separately it may have worked but international shipping for wine bottles may have gotten expensive fast.
What was great about this part of the festivities is that you can spend as little or as much time as you wanted with lots of repeat ability for the duration of the trip. It is also a fantastic opportunity to try new Italian wine, enjoy favorites, or splurge on the fancier Italian varietals. At these affordable prices by the glass, there is not a big loss if you do not like your selection and allows you to shop around with committing to a bottle. We love events that have this set up to discover new favorites.
In addition to the Douja d’Or tent, there is the gastromonic village of Festival della Sagre Asigiane the first weekend of the festival, nightly dinners showcasing regional cuisine at Piatto & Dolce d’Autore and many other daily activities including guided wine tastings, medieval parades, special exhibits, vermouth education, and much more. And of course, ending with the famous Palio horse race. Read about the full experience in Asti!