Today we’re going to look at one of the more divisive white wines around: Moscato. The intense sweetness of Moscato is the source of much controversy among wine fanatics—some love the sweet notes of the wine, while others find it sickly and extremely off-putting. The source of the sweetness is the Muscat grape. Due to its high amounts of natural sugars, the Muscat grape is one of the few noble grapes that can be enjoyed raw. As a result, wine made using this noble grape are known for sugary notes.
Muscat grapes are one of the oldest in the world with origins tracing back to ancient Egypt. The grapes are grown in many countries including France, Italy, U.S.A, Spain, and South Africa.
Types of Moscato
Far from being a singular tipple, there are in fact five distinct styles of Moscato, each with their own unique characteristics.
There are two types of sparkling Moscato wines: semi-sparkling (Moscato d’Asti) and sparkling (Asti Spumante). These wines are known for their sweetness and clean bubbly texture. Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante are produced under very strict origin classifications. As a result, only wines from Italy can be labelled as such.
These are essentially wines made using a combination of Muscat Blanc grapes and other similar varieties.
Not technically a Rosé, Pink Moscato is made from a combination of Muscat and Merlot grapes which results in a pleasant pink color and a tasty fruity sweetness.
Red (Black) Muscat
This wine is made from the scarce Black Muscat grape variety.
These extremely sweet wines are made from partially dried Muscat grapes.
Moscato is made using the Muscat grape. These grapes have a significant sugar content, which results in the wine's pronounced sweetness. This sweetness combined with the low alcohol content makes Moscato an incredibly easy to drink wine that is perfect for hot summer days.
The most prominent fruit notes found in Moscato are of peaches and orange blossoms. Other notes include Meyer lemons, mandarins, honeysuckle, pears, and various floral aspects. The wine is extremely light bodied and has an almost fizzy texture.
The sweet and zesty notes of Moscato make it a perfect wine to pair with light fish dishes. Simple grilled or baked white fish like cod or halibut pair beautifully with this wine. Other meats to try with a glass of Moscato include chicken, duck, pork, and various shellfish.
In terms of herbs and spices, don’t be afraid to bump up the heat. Moscato works well when paired with spicy food. The sweet notes of the wine act as a wonderful counterpoint to spicy food, especially food from the Far East.
Wines to try
Vietti Cascinetta Moscato d'Asti ($12)
A wonderful fizzy Moscato with sweet notes of peach and flowers.
Benessere Estate Grown Moscato ($25)
A sweet dessert-style Moscato. Strong notes of jasmine and honeysuckle with a creamy texture.
Quady Elysium Black Muscat ($22)
Rich and sweet with wonderful floral notes. This wine pairs the overall sweetness with a zesty acidity.