If you yell the word “Moscato” in a crowded room, we guarantee you’ll get mixed reactions. Some people will probably scoff and turn their noses, some might cheer and raise their glass, and others will wonder why you're yelling at all. Despite the rift, we think that when it comes to Moscato, modern-day poet Aubrey Graham, a.k.a Drake, put it best when he said
“A glass of Moscato / For the girl who’s a student / And her friend who’s a model / Finished the whole bottle.”
Moscato really is for everyone - we love it and you should too.
First of all, "Moscato" is just the Italian name for Muscat.
Muscat isn’t a single variety, but rather a family of grapes with multiple varieties. Moscato Bianco (also called "Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains") is the oldest and most noble of this group and used for the highest quality Muscat wines. All of the different varieties give wine slightly different characteristics.
Muscat tends to mutate easily in the vineyard, so you’ll find a wide range of grape colors out there.
These colors include very pale white, golden yellow, orange- and pink-tinted, and deep red. Orange Muscat is a variety in this family of grapes that produces wines with a strong orange and orange blossom aroma. There’s even a blue Moscato out there. No, the grapes are not blue, and the color is not natural. But it’s pretty and we'll leave it at that.
Moscato gets a bad rap because most people associate it with generically flavored, overly sweet swill.
But Moscato can be incredibly versatile. If you like light sparklers, dry whites, or fortified dessert wines, there is a Moscato out there for you. It’s a nice alternative to other aromatic varieties you might already enjoy, such as Gewürztraminer, Torrontés, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio. If you like Prosecco or Lambrusco, give Moscato d’Asti a try. Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from southern France is ripe and lusciously honeyed, but surprisingly fresh for a fortified dessert wine. Liqueur Muscats from Australia are produced in a similar style to Sherry, giving them a brown color and a nutty, toasted taste.
Whichever iteration you prefer, Moscato will always be aromatic.
Its bouquet is reminiscent of fresh peaches and nectarines, Asian pear, grapes (it’s one of the few wines described as tasting “grapey”), blossoms and honeysuckle, candied lemon and orange, musky spice - I could go on, but you get the picture.
Non-fortified, slightly sweet versions are fairly low in alcohol, which means you can enjoy that extra glass or two.
If you like Mimosas and want to try something a little different, add a splash of lightly sweetened lemonade to your Moscato - it will cut the sweetness and is dangerously delicious.
It’s incredibly food-friendly.
The lighter, bubbly versions are perfect for breakfast or brunch. Spicy and salty foods served alongside lightly sweet wines are a match made in heaven. The fortified versions of this wine pair well with fruit or nut-based desserts - think passion fruit pot de crème, pavlova with citrus curd, or pecan pie. You can even take a biscotti cookie and dip it into your liqueur Muscat.
Even though Moscato doesn’t need to be taken seriously, it is seriously tasty. Toss aside any preconceived notions and give it a try!