All About Moscato

If you’ve ever spent time in Italy you’ve probably been offered a glass of sweet white wine from the Muscat Blanc grape, which the Italians call Moscato. This popular wine is known for its extremely aromatic style and ripe floral and fruit flavor notes ranging from lemon, orange and pear to honeysuckle. One whiff of even the smallest pour of this delicious light-bodied delight will transport you to a flowering hillside in Piedmont, a region on the Italian side of the Alps.

Perhaps the most popular style is Moscato D’Asti, which literally means Moscato from the Asti region of Piedmont. Asti lies east of the city of Turin in the plain of the Tanaro River and enjoys a moderate, almost Mediterranean climate. In this area limestone and sandstone deposits contribute to the region’s soil content resulting in very unique wines. The light-bodied white wines with sweet tropical notes are often frizzante, or semi-sparkling, made with very light bubbles. The region also produces full sparkling wines, or spumante, in the sweet Moscato style.

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Even sweeter than Moscato d’Asti are the dessert Moscato wines made from Muscat Blanc. Although considered a white grape, it exhibits a slightly browner hue. This grape with its Greek origins is characteristically very small. As is often the case with smaller grapes, there tends to be less water content thus more concentrated ripeness and sugar content. This makes Muscat Blanc ideal for the sweeter side of wines. Because they tend to be much lower in alcohol they are also popular with wine drinkers counting their calories.

A Moscato style of dessert wine is a favorite pairing for spicy food, so you’ll often find them on the menu in restaurants specializing in Asian-inspired cuisine. You might be surprised to find out they pair well with lighter meat dishes, such as chicken, turkey or even duck. Seafood is also not off limits and many Moscatos can pair well with both flaky fish and crustaceans, especially when the preparation includes some spice. Speaking of spice, don’t be afraid to pour a glass of Moscato with your pulled pork BBQ because the sweetness can handle a spicy barbecue dish almost every time. If you are serving vegetarian food or even just a cheese plate, lean towards the spicier and tangier dishes that include peppers and mango or pineapple and the firmer range of cheeses.

In our collection is Abbazia Moscato IGT, an excellent example of a Piedmont region Moscato. Made from handpicked grapes, this wine is by the Santero family who have managed the winery since 1848. The name “Abbazia” comes from the ancient Benedictine monastery and abbey from the 12th century now incorporated into the cellar. Inside this cellar are the oldest bas-reliefs of southern Piedmont depicting rare representations of the first cultivations of the Moscato grape at that time called “Apicius” for its sweetness and scent.

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We also offer a fruity, off-dry California Moscato by Spencer Family Vineyard, which offers the floral and orchard fruit-driven aromas of a classic Moscato. This clean, unoaked wine tastes of peach and tangerine and is wonderful as an aperitif, or a dessert pairing.