Moscato

muh-ska-to

Parents & Origin: Muscat grape (Piedmont, Italy)
Grape: Various mutations from light to dark
Flavors: Nectarine, peach, orange, grape
Notable Regions: Italy, France, Spain, California, Australia, South Africa
Sweetness: Sweet
Body: Light
Tannins: None
Acidity: Medium-low
ABV: 5-12%

The History of Moscato

Muscat grapes have a long history - they have been in existence since antiquity and were first mentioned by name in the 13th century. These grapes, prized for their sweetness, are still often eaten as a table grape or even made into raisins. However, a few varieties of Muscat are best known as Moscato, a floral and sweet white wine.

The traditional Italian Moscato, known as Moscato d’Asti, originated in the Piedmont region from a variety called Muscat blanc à Petits Grains. This type of Moscato is usually very low in alcohol and is slightly fizzy, establishing it as a dessert or aperitif wine. However, as the Muscat grape saw expanded consumption throughout the world, different varieties of Moscato began to emerge. One grape variety called Muscat of Alexandria became extremely popular in California, South Africa, and Australia. Muscat of Alexandria is typically used in production of wines labeled “Moscato” in the United States.

Today, Moscato has seen increased popularity as an affordable wine with an enjoyable flavor, and it is now often sold in anonymous blends in large jugs. In fact, Moscato is the fastest growing wine in terms of popularity in the United States, growing at an average rate of 25 percent per year. Still, despite Moscato’s light taste and low cost, it can play an important role in a wine enthusiast’s collection, especially as a dessert wine or aperitif.

Interesting Fact: Moscato’s sudden rise in popularity has been reflected in the hip hop industry, having been mentioned in songs by artists such as Drake and Lil Kim. Some even credit the genre’s focus on Moscato with the wine’s booming sales.

Moscato Food Pairings

Moscato is traditionally sipped alone or with a light dessert, but its characteristics as a sweet and light white wine offer a variety of food pairings.

The Best Moscato Food Pairings

Naturally, Moscato pairs exceptionally well with any dessert. Its crisp, light flavor and low alcohol content can also stand up to spicy foods. Salty foods, such as cured meat or strong cheeses, are known to pair well with Moscato as well.

Food Pairings to Avoid with Moscato

While Moscato will taste great no matter the meal, it is often difficult to pair with any main course due to its sweet fruity essence. This is especially true of fatty meats and heavy, rich dishes. Stick to appetizers, desserts, or sweet brunch dishes to ensure a successful Moscato pairing.

Moscato Tasting Notes

Moscato’s flavor is generally straightforward and very accessible, though it often comes with a powerful scent known as the “Muscat aroma” due to high amounts of an aromatic compound called linalool. As for the taste itself, the most common varieties, which are unaged and young, typically exhibit a strong “grape” flavor and a prominent floral aroma. Prevailing flavor notes include nectarine, orange blossom, and peach. It is also important to serve Moscato chilled, as this softens its sweetness and enhances the fruit flavors.

Moscato's Sweet Flavors

Above all, Moscato is known for its sweetness, which for centuries has established it as a popular wine for desserts and for sipping by itself. This sweetness comes from the Muscat grape, which contains considerably more sugar than most other grapes used in winemaking. This results in a final product with more remaining sugar but less acidity, rounding out the wine into something that is light, aromatic, and delicious.

Varieties of Moscato

The impressive diversity of Muscat grapes ensures a wide variety of wines, all of which have different tasting experiences:

  • Moscato d’Asti - This traditional variety is sparkling and especially light in taste, with a more pronounced grape flavor than other types.
  • Moscato Rosa - Similar to Moscato d’Asti, but with a ruby red color and more notes of spice and berry.
  • Moscato Giallo - This golden-colored Moscato is grown in cooler climates, resulting in a drier and spicier flavor profile.
  • Moscato di Pantelleria - Produced from Muscat of Alexandria grapes, this regional Italian wine has more of an apricot flavor.

Our Selection of Moscato

  • Italy: Abbazia Moscato Vino Dolce I.G.T. - This non-vintage Moscato is a fun and spritzy white wine from Northern Italy's Lombardia province, where sun-soaked days and cool nights produce highly flavorful wines. This sweet and beautifully floral wine is ideal as an aperitif or with a delectable dessert.
  • California: 2017 Spencer Family Vineyard Moscato - This off-dry California wine is a treat that can bookend any meal, working wonderfully as an aperitif, or a dessert pairing. With floral aromas and rich flavors of peach and tangerine, this Moscato is perfect with your favorite spicy takeout.
  • Italy: Abbazia Moscato Rosé Dolce - When we think sparkling wine, we think sunny days, a glass or two enjoyed poolside, and a spirit of celebration. Abbazia Rosé Dolce is all of that in a bottle. With a lovely pink hue, this light and fruity non-vintage Italian sparkler is perfect with your favorite sweet treat, or enjoyed on its own, by a glistening body of water.
  • Italy: Villa Amoroso Moscato Vino Dolce I.G.T. - The sunny days and cool nights of northern Italy's Lombardy province nurture grapes, resulting in flavorful, festive wines like non-vintage Villa Amoroso Moscato. Beloved for its fruity peach and citrus flavors, this spritzy and light-hearted white has a floral feel that can bookend any meal, whether you serve it as an aperitif or with dessert.

Moscato in a Nutshell

Moscato is a divisive wine, often lauded for its fruity sweetness or derided as cheap and unsophisticated. However, Moscato is in fact a complex wine with a number of diverse varieties and flavors, and consumers are starting to catch on given the wine’s impressive growth in popularity in recent years. A good Moscato can be essential to a wine enthusiast’s collection, whether served alongside spicy food, as a light aperitif, or as a floral dessert accompaniment.