Moscato is a popular white wine made from Muscat grapes that grow in many different regions of the world. It is a clean, smooth, and crisp wine with aromas of fruit, making it a popular dessert wine.
In this Moscato guide, you will discover what Moscato wine is, how it’s made, and everything you need to know about this popular white wine.
What is Moscato Wine?
Moscato Wine is a type of white wine made from Muscat grapes. It is a sweet and fizzy white that’s known for its low alcohol level, low acidity, and grown in many regions of the world.
Muscat grape is a table grape that’s also used to make raisins and other food in Italy. It’s pronounced as “moe-ska-toe,” and it’s the Italian name for Muscat Blanc, which is one of the oldest grapes in the world used for winemaking.
Its unique flavor is characterized by having sweet peach, nectarine, and orange blossom aromas, and is considered to be a dessert wine perfect to pair with sweets and dessert.
Moscato is a popular white wine with its surge in mainstream popularity occurring in the last decade. Everyone from a novice wine drinker to big celebrities all over the world is known to favor Moscato, and in fact, it is acknowledged to have 6% of the total market share in the world’s wine industry.
While Italy is known for producing some of the world’s largest supply of Moscato, the wine is also produced in several winemaking regions in France, Italy, Greece, Austria, Israel, Australia, and the US.
While there are over 200 varieties of Muscat grapes, the two most commonly used are Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Blanc. Different shades of Muscat grapes include red, black, pink, brown, white, and golden.
The history of Moscato goes back to ancient times, but its origins are said to be traced back to ancient Greece. Muscat Blanc grapes are known to be the oldest known variety of grapes grown in the Piedmont region of Italy.
It is recognized as a difficult grape to grow though and known for producing low yields. It attracts several kinds of damaging moth, rot, leaf problems, and is susceptible to mildew. The grapes also require long growing seasons.
Nevertheless, the cool climate and distinct soils of northern Italy create the prime land to facilitate the development of Muscat Blanc’s unique flavors. Its low alcohol level and sweetness make it a desirable grape for winemakers. Considered to be the very wine winemakers produce for themselves, winemakers and their workers would drink the wine with noontime meals without hindering their energy levels, as well as making this the perfect wine to clean their palate after dinner in preparation for dessert.
Moscato Food Pairings
As a dessert wine, Moscato goes perfectly well with creamy desserts with flavors of caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and coconut flavors. However, it does not go well with chocolate because the flavors of cacao overpower the light and crisp aromas of Moscato wine.
But just because Moscato is sweet, it doesn’t mean desserts and fruity flavors are its only perfect food pairings. Moscato also goes perfectly well with full meals, certain meats, and of course, specific kinds of cheese.
- Cheese Pairings
Moscato wine is perfect for creamier cheese flavors that are just as light in flavor. Avoid any kind of cheese with sharp flavors, and opt for sheep and cow’s milk varieties such as brie, soft goat cheese, and gorgonzola.
- Cuisine Pairings
Moscato is renowned for being the perfect wine to pair with Asian food, particularly Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisine. This is because Moscato wine flawlessly handles spicy food well, due to its low alcohol levels and its high sugar content. These cuisines are also rich in aromatic species such as cardamom, chile peppers, ginger, and cinnamon, which are the perfect flavor pairings with Moscato.
- Meat Pairings
Because of its light-bodied characteristic, Moscato works well with light meats such as chicken and fish. Turkey, duck, lobster, shrimp, crab, cod, and port tenderloin are great pairings to the wine.
- Spices and Herbs
When these kinds of meats are seasoned or flavored with certain spices and herbs, they exceptionally pair well with Moscato’s light-bodied, sweet, and fruity aromas. Some of these spices and herbs include basil, lime, chilli pepper, clove, shallots, cilantro, mint, and Teriyaki sauce. Certain vegetables are also ideal to pair with wine, such as carrots, celery, as well as tofu.
When it comes to serving Moscato wine, it is best served chilled. Chilling Moscato wine brings out the fruity and floral aromas of the wine.
Moscato Wine Flavors
Moscato wine is known for its unique scents. Its distinct aroma is colloquially known as “Muscat Aroma,” and features 5 flavors, which are Meyer lemon, pear, mandarin orange, honeysuckle, and orange blossom.
Its flavors at the top are defined as having a calming aroma of lavender, citrus, mint, cinnamon, and florals. Muscat grapes feature similar aromas with citrus fruits because it also contains a similar compound, which is known as linalool, floral and spicy terpene alcohol.
At the base, Moscato wine features aromas of ripe peach, ginger, almonds, green grapes, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and citrus tones.
The flavors of Moscato are achieved in a simple winemaking process where ripened Muscat grapes, with their skins intact, are pressed, then go through the fermentation process. The musts are chilled to low temperatures, almost at freezing point, to stop the fermentation process in its tracks, This results in the halting of the conversion of sugar into alcohol, leaving behind the natural sugars derived from the Muscat grapes.
The fizzy texture of Moscato is achieved due to its bottling process that includes carbon dioxide to produce some of the bubbles, The added carbon dioxide helps to guarantee that not all of the sugar converts to alcohol, giving the wine its distinct and unique sweet flavor. However, no second formation process occurs, making it less fizzy than Champagne. It is also filtered before bottling, producing its unique golden color which it is known for
Moscato Wine Styles
There are 5 different styles of Moscato with each differing in flavors and alcohol levels. Let’s dissect each one:
1. Sparkling and Semi-Sparkling Moscato
Sparkling and semi-sparkling Moscato is made from Muscat Blanc grapes. Moscato d’Asti is the most popular semi-sparkling Moscato, while Asti Spumante is the most popular sparkling variety. Most wines labeled as Moscato are typically made in these styles.
These are highly aromatic and sweet without being too overwhelming. They are perfectly balanced with zippy acidity, bubbles, and a minerally clean finish.
Muscat Blanc grapes used in these wines come from the province of Asti, Italy, and thus the name Asti used in each variety. Their alcohol level is relatively low at 5 % to 6%, as compared to most wines having around 10% alcohol levels.
2. Still Moscato
Still Moscato is also made from Muscat Blanc but it does not contain carbon dioxide in the bottle that gives sparkling Moscato wine its bubbly characteristics. While Muscat Blanc is the most commonly used in Still Moscato, some Muscat grape varieties are also used in this style of Moscato white wine, with Muscat of Alexandria being one of these varieties.
It is considered to have a dry taste but the brain tricks you into thinking it is sweet due to the fruity and sweet aromas. It is also known to have higher alcohol levels than sparkling Moscato. Its alcohol level is usually presented at about 12% .
3. Black or Red Moscato
This style of Muscato is considered to be rare. It makes use of Black Muscat grapes, which is known to be a cross made from a rare Italian red grape and Muscat of Alexandria. Its flavors offer a hint of raspberry, Assam black tea, violets, and rose petals.
4. Pink Moscato
Muscat grapes are used in making Pink Moscato, as well as an addition of Merlot. This blend produces its distinct ruby-pink color and it’s often described as being a classic Moscato with a hint of strawberry flavors.
5. Dessert Moscato
While Moscato is generally considered a dessert wine, one of its styles is specifically defined as such. It is typically made from Muscat of Alexandria or also known as orange muscat. These grapes tend to have a thick and oily texture, as well as having a tawny color.
These grapes are often found and sourced in the south of France, Southern Spain, the US, and Australia, Oak aging is also a common methodology in producing Dessert Moscato.
The Best Moscato Wines
Moscato wine is found all over the world and relatively inexpensive, making it one of the most popular white wines. Because of these, producers have been cashing up on the surge of popularity of Moscato, presenting different brands and varieties from season to season.
If you’ve never had Moscato before and would like to give it a try, finding the best Moscato wines can be overwhelming. That is why this list is perfect to help you narrow down your choices for the best Moscato you should try.
Here are 7 of the best Moscato wines from different parts of the globe:
1. Barefoot Moscato
Produced in California, Barefoot Moscato features a 9% alcohol level and is described as having a sweet, crisp, and smooth flavor. The company’s[ winemaker is Jennifer Wall, considered to be the world’s most awarded winemaker, with about 2000 medals and countless accolades for her work in the Barefoot Wine company.
2. SkinnyGirl Moscato
Made in Italy, SkinnyGirl Moscato comes from a brand that was originally launched by Bethenny Frankel, of the famed Real Housewives TV franchise. Her company was acquired by spirits conglomerate Beam Suntory in 2011, and this Moscato bottle is featured in the company’s SkinnyGirl Cocktails collection.
This Moscato is renowned for having a sparkling, sweet flavor, and included in their brand’s 7 “low-calorie” wines.
3. Coppo Moncalvina Moscato
Coppo Moncalvina is a Moscato d’Asti sparkling wine produced on the Anelli slopes of Piedmont, Italy. The company is famous for its underground wine cellars, which extend deep into the hillside and renowned for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coppo Mocalvino is proudly presented with the DOCG acknowledgment, which is the highest designation of quality among Italian wines. Piedmont is known for producing the world’s representative Moscato products, with Moscato d’Asti their most renowned product.
4. Bartenura Moscato
Bartenura Moscato is produced in Italy and features an iconic blue glass bottle that’s known worldwide. It is known for its sweet and Kosher Moscato, which is recognized as being a favorite among novice wine drinkers to some of the biggest celebrities in the world being big fans of the bottle.
5. Saracco Moscato d’Asti
The Saracco Moscato d’Asti 2017 is characterized as being light-bodied and frizzante, which is an Italian term for sparkling wines that are subtle. An Italian product, this bottle produces flavors of white flowers, and summer fruits, making it the perfect white for daytime meals and as a pre-dinner refresher.
6. Innocent Bystander Moscato
A sparkling wine produced in Victoria, Australia, it is considered to be one of the most searched pink Moscato wines in the world. Its winemakers blend Muscat Godo and a black grape variety called Muscat of Hamburg to create delicious sparkling Moscato.
7. Vietti Cascinetta Moscato
Another winemaker with the prestigious DOCG acknowledgment, the Vietti Cascinetta is a Moscato d’Asti from selected small vineyards found in Castiglione Tinella. The region has been undeniably considered the best region for DOCG winemakers in the country.
The Piedmontese winery is known for its prestigious Barbero wines, but their Moscato is also regarded as being one of the best from Italy.
Moscato is a clean, light-bodied, sweet, and fizzy white wine that works best with desserts and light meals. It is a fantastic introductory wine for novice drinkers, but also a favored palate refresher for wine connoisseurs and celebrities all over the world. Having a surge in popularity in the last decade, these inexpensive and simple white wines have become a staple in many private collections around the world.