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Moscato Wine: Unveiling the Delights of Moscato White and Red Wines
McKenzie Hagan |
While Moscato d’Asti may ring a few bells, Moscato wine is not a commonly enjoyed wine anymore. Shooting to popularity in the 1970s and ‘80s, this low-alcohol Italian wine was everyone’s fizzy wine of choice if they couldn’t afford Champagne. However, Prosecco seems to have taken the crown for the cheaper alternative.
But Moscato wine is about much more than Asti — it actually comes in a wide range of styles, including sweet wine, red wine, and even rosé.
In this article we’ll guide you through what Moscato wine is, where it is from, what it tastes like, and why we’re not quite ready to let go of this retro wine just yet.
What Is Moscato Wine?
Moscato wine originally hails from Italy, most notably in the Northwestern district of Piedmont. It is always made from one of the many varieties of Muscat grapes, which are highly fragrant and praised for their grape flavor profile. While you may think that all wines could be described this way, when you taste Moscato for the first time, you’ll see what we mean.
The Muscat grape is the world’s oldest known grape variety. Some wine academics suggest that ancestors of the grape were enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians. Today, there are over 200 varieties of Muscat grapes, all of which look very different. While white Muscat grapes have gorgeous golden hues, others range from pink to pale brown.
Moscato wine is rather sweet, so is often enjoyed as an aperitif or dessert wine. However, due to its low alcohol content (some being as low as 5%), some see it as the perfect easy-drinking wine, ideal for a long, boozy picnic.
The fun thing about Muscat grapes is how versatile they are. Winemakers can turn these ancient grapes into dry, medium, sweet, sparkling, and (most famously) dessert wine.
Where Do Muscat Grapes Grow?
Italy grows more Muscat grapes than anywhere else in the world. While these marvelous grapes do well in most warmer climates, they thrive in the Mediterranean (think Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France).
However, due to the grape’s expansive history, the grape has mutated and crossed with other grape varieties all over the world. You can find Moscato wine variations in Australia, South Africa, Chile, and California.
What Does Moscato Wine Taste Like?
If you prefer sweeter, fruitier wines, with low alcohol, then Moscato wine may just be your new favorite bottle.
The most common tasting notes that come up after sipping Moscato are clear fruit flavors. Wine lovers remark on notes of berries, such as raspberries and stone fruits, like nectarines and apricots.
Floral flavors like orange blossom and rose petals also come up frequently, making it a lovely wine to enjoy on a warm, summery day.
The 5 Types of Moscato Wine You Need to Know
There are many varieties of Moscato wine, all on the fruiter end of the scale. There are some key differences in how they are made, how they are blended, and how they look.
Muscat Blanc is a white wine and is most often enjoyed still. It has those remarkable fruity flavors Muscat grapes are famous for, including notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle.
Muscat Blanc should be served cool in a small wine glass.
Red Moscato is a sweet red wine with plenty of ripe berry flavors — think raspberries, strawberries, and cherries. If you’re not always a fan of heavy, savory red wines, red Moscato might be the red wine for you.
Red Moscato is often a blend of Muscat grapes and Syrah (Shiraz) or Zinfandel.
We advise serving red Moscato in a Burgundy glass, a little cooler than room temperature.
Pink Moscato is a rosé wine. One of the most quintessential rosés on the market, pink Moscato tastes how most people expect rosé to taste, like raspberries and pomegranates. It’s a much sweeter pink wine than our Usual Wines Rosé.
Pink Moscato should be served cool in a small wine glass.
While all the Moscatos we have mentioned are known for their highly sweet flavor profile, they haven’t got anything on dessert Moscato. Muscat-based sweet wines are rich and sugary (some have more sugar than a can of Coca-Cola). They pair well with desserts and are the perfect aperitif to finish a meal with.
Serve dessert Moscato very cold in a port or sherry glass.
Moscato d’Asti is probably the most popular style of Moscato wine. Referred to as simply “Asti,” this sparkling, sweet fizz had a real moment back in the ‘70s and ‘80s but fell out of fashion in the ‘90s. However, this sweet, sparkling wine is still enjoyed all over the world, just in lesser numbers.
Moscato d’Asti hails from the Piedmont area, in Northwestern Italy. It’s gently sparkling and has delicate floral notes.
We personally think Moscato wine is due a comeback, so bring a bottle to your next tasting party and enjoy some retro delights. Serve sparkling Moscato chilled and in a champagne flute.
How Do I Pair Moscato Wine?
When it comes to food pairing, Moscato has a few tricks up its sleeve. It’s very versatile and some of your options may surprise you.
Spicy food (Thai food in particular) complements the sweet, fruity flavors of the wine. Curries from India, China, Vietnam, and Thailand have highly aromatic flavors, so the natural sweetness of the wine harmonizes with your meal.
Brunch is a meal best enjoyed with friends and with a nice fizzy bottle of wine. A pink Moscato is a crowd pleaser — it has low alcohol and can pair nicely with light meats, fruit plates, and sweet pastries, making it a perfect choice for what goes well with wine during this delightful mid-morning gathering.
Finally, dessert Moscato goes down perfectly with sorbet, cake, and fruit-based tarts or parfaits. A sweet wine will always be more pleasant (and not feel so overwhelmingly sugary) when it’s paired with something of equal sweetness.
Bonus tip: If you can match the fruit flavor in your dessert wine with a dessert of the same fruit, then you’ll be on to a winning pairing. For instance, pink Moscato often has notes of raspberry and strawberry, so eat it alongside a delicious raspberry crème brûlée and get ready for berry heaven.
Moscato Is Here to Stay
Muscat grapes have been around for generations and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere. While it may not be as popular as it was in the past, we still look to Moscato wine when we want something light, sweet, and fruity.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect aperitif with your dessert, are planning a long brunch date and want something with low alcohol, or simply can’t get enough of fruity flavors, this Italian wine might just be the ideal match for you.
If you would like to learn more about sweet wines, sparkling wines, and other uncommon grapes, check out our wide library of non-snobby wine articles.