Moscato wine has made a name for itself as a sweet wine with a bubbly personality. Its name, pronounced “moe-ska-toe,” has its origins in the Italian name for Muscat Blanc – one of the oldest types of grapes found on the globe today.
Albeit an ancient grape variety that has produced the delicious wine for countless years, Moscato has only recently been catapulted into the spotlight of popularity and praise.
What is Moscato Wine?
In very simple terms, Moscato wine is a sweet and fizzy Rosé or white wine. Its sweetness is the result of its high residual sugar content.
Moscato wine is commonly paired with desserts, fruits, and appetisers. Most varieties have a relatively low alcohol content although there are a few that have an ABV of 15% or slightly more. The Muscat grape that is used in the production of Moscato is often served as a snack, while also being used to make raisins.
The Muscat grape hails from the Piedmont region of Italy which is the famous birthplace of Moscato wine – especially Moscato d’Asti. The region is similarly famous for its Barolo wine. Orange blossom, peach, and nectarine are amongst the iconic flavours that will be detected in this sweet and bubbly wine. As of 2012, Moscato wine surpassed Sauvignon Blanc as the most widely purchased wine in the United States. Sales continued to grow by 19% annually over the next four years.
Types of Moscato Wine
The most popular Moscato wine available today is Moscato d’Asti which has its roots in the Piedmont region in Italy. This wine is light, sweet, and packed with delicate fruit. It has an ABV of 5.5% which is relatively low when compared to wine’s standard ABV of around 13%.
There are five distinct flavours that are detectable across the range of Moscato wines:
- Orange blossom
- Mandarin orange
The unique perfume of wines made from Muscat grapes contains an aromatic compound known as linalool. This is a natural terpene alcohol that is present in an array of spice plants and flowers.
Mosacto Wine Styles
When it comes to Moscato wine styles, there are five distinct categories namely, sparkling and semi-sparkling, still, pink, red or black Muscat, and Moscato dessert wine.
Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante
Semi-sparkling (Moscato d’Asti) and sparkling (Asti Spumante) Moscato is made from the Muscat Blanc grape variety. These styles are primarily produced in the Asti region, hence the name, and they boast a rich blend of aromas, sweet notes and refreshing bubbles. Both have a relatively low alcohol content while also having been granted Italy’s prestigious qualification of Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or ‘DOCG’. This is the highest possible classification that can be afforded to a wine produced in Italy. While assuring its excellence, DOCG status also protects the authenticity of the wine in that it guarantees its place of origin.
Still Moscato contains an additional blend of other grape types. One such grape is the Muscat of Alexandria. It is a white wine grape that originates in Egypt and it is believed to be the most ancient genetically unmodified vine still alive today. Still Moscato is a lesser-known form of the popular wine with a reduced sugar content compared to its sparkling relative. You would not necessarily notice this as its fruity aromas trick you into believing it is sweet. It has an ABV of around 12%.
It may seem as if pink Moscato wine is a marketing fad more than anything else however it does have certain unique and delightful qualities. While comprising predominantly of the Muscat grape, this wine includes a healthy dose of Merlot which gives it that pink colour. The fruity flavours tend more towards strawberry so if you are seeking something extra sweet and extra delicious, this is the wine for you.
Red Moscato is produced from a grape called red Muscat. This wine embodies the perfect marriage between rose petals, violets, raspberries and roasted assam tea leaves. Moscato dessert wines, on the other hand, are even sweeter than Moscato d’Asti. This is achieved by drying the grapes to enhance and lock in their sweetness. It is so exquisitely sweet that it works as a standalone dessert.
How to Pair Moscato Wine
Moscato wine pairs excellently with an array of meat-based dishes as well as a selection of cheeses and desserts. It is especially suited to Asian cuisines. This type of wine is one of the few that work with spicy dishes – this is because of its simultaneous low alcohol content and intense sweetness. It pairs particularly well with aromatic spices such as cinnamon and cardamom.
The meat-based dishes that are famously paired with Moscato wine are turkey, chicken, tenderloin, shrimp, duck, barbecued pork, and crab. Hard cheeses made from both sheep and cow’s milk are also well-suited additions. Moscato wine lends itself to vegetable-based foods as either a side or a main dish.
Examples of appropriate vegetables include celery, carrots, red and yellow peppers, and fennel. Mangoes and tropical fruits such as orange and pineapple are also known to complement the wine when served as part of a dessert.
Is Moscato a Cheap Wine?
Many people are confused as to why Moscato is so affordable, or relatively affordable, in the modern day and age where wine prices seem to increase on a bimonthly basis. The price of a wine, while relying somewhat on its reputation or its perceived value, is a reflection of its supply, demand, and production costs.
Moscato wines are affordable primarily because the wine making process can be achieved across a number of climates and regions. Thus, it is a competitive market. Furthermore, yields are high and there is little need for fancy barrels and expensive aging processes. Hence, its price can be traced back to affordable growing and harvesting practices and the free-market economy model within which we operate.
If you haven’t yet sipped on a Moscato wine, we suggest you change that!
Born amidst the rolling vineyards of Napa Valley, Chloe’s love for wine was instilled from a young age. This passion led her to the picturesque wine regions of France, where she immersed herself in the rich wine culture and traditions.
Chloe’s dedication to the craft culminated in her becoming a wine sommelier, a testament to her deep knowledge and appreciation for wines.