What is Moscato Wine?
Moscato white wine, made from the Muscat Blanc grape which grows mostly in Piedmont in Italy, is a little bit different from all other wines and it is worthwhile to try it as a delightful little change in one’s wine-drinking routine. Fresh, fruity, floral, and fragrant, the frizzante or slightly sparkling wine is on the light side of things, with a lower alcohol content than other reds and whites, and has a sweeter taste. For a person who may have never tried wine before, Moscato is the perfect introduction; and although it’s a wine beginner wine enthusiasts enjoy, experts adore it for its sophisticated nuances and refreshing palate.
Moscato grapes are believed to be the oldest cultivated varietal of grapes in the world, and along with making wines, they are also grown for raisins and can be eaten straight from the stem as other table grapes are. While they are mostly grown in Italy, they are also cultivated in almost every wine region on the planet.
While usually labelled simply as Moscato, if the wine comes from the Piedmont region, it will be labelled as Moscato d’Asti (a town in Piedmont). The first few things a person will notice about Moscato are its fragrance of flowers, spritzy – almost sparkling- character, lower alcohol content of about 8 %, light body, golden straw colour, and sweet, fruit forward flavour.
The aromas characteristic of Moscato are dazzling, exotic and refreshing all at the same time. Orange blossom, ginger, almonds, honeysuckle, citrus notes and peach all form a part of the wine’s dizzying perfume, and the flavour ranges from semi-sweet to sweet, with a fruity start and a crisp, medium acidity. Tastes have been described as a combination reminiscent of peaches, oranges, apples, citrus, pears, and apricot. The taste has been described by “newbies” to wine drinking as heavenly; the mix of bubbles, sweetness, acidity and fruitiness wins over almost everyone who gives it a try.
Moscato, like all other wine varietals, comes in a large price range. On the lower end of the price spectrum, about $6, Moscato wine tends to be very sweet with big fruit flavours, and on the higher end of the scale, over $200, it tends to have more floral aromatics, be semi-sweet, and have a flavour that makes one think of stonefruit, apricots, and peaches.
Moscato wine tends to be a favourite beverage during the day-time, served at brunches, lunches, and afternoon tea. Many also believe that Moscato is best when it accompanies dessert in the evening time; no matter what time Moscato is served, whether it’s brunch, lunch, as an aperitif or digestif, all agree that it must be served cold in order for all the flavours and textures to be fully appreciated.
This festive and celebratory wine, due to its combination of sweet and acidic, makes it incredibly versatile when it comes to wine and food pairing. It must be served young; aging it is of no benefit whatsoever, and the first pairings which come to mind are desserts. Moscato goes well with fresh berries such as wild blackberries, desserts made of apples, peach cobbler, fruit crumble, lemon meringue pie, lemon-poppy cakes, and desserts featuring hazelnuts, which compliment the wine’s level of acidity. The wine also goes very nicely with summer salads or salads made with fresh, garden-grown greens.
While people tend to naturally think of sweet food pairings for Moscato, it also goes incredibly well with some unexpected food items. Moscato d’Asti will match perfectly well with cheese courses featuring strong and mild cheeses, charcuterie (preserved meats such as jamon Serrano from Spain), and antipasto plates featuring sundried tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes, and olives.
Another interesting characteristic of Moscato which makes it an attractive wine to drink is the plentiful presence of flavonoids which are antioxidants. While red wine has the fame of having these anti-aging compounds in its components, Moscato wine has just as many of them or even more, according to some experts in the chemistry and wine-making fields. Therefore, a glass or two of Moscato a day could be just as beneficial to one’s health as a glass or two of red wine.
As mentioned previously, Moscato grapes are grown all over the world and Moscato wines are produced, however, the wines are known by slightly different names; either a different sub-type of Moscato grape is used in the wine-making process or the spelling differs slightly due to language differences. Both Australia and Austria produce “Muscat” wines, with Austria producing “muskatellers” ranging from dry to very sweet. In France, Moscato grapes are used for Vins Doux Naturels, sweet natural wines, and one of the best-known Moscatos is the dry Muscat D’Alsace. Greek-produced Moscato is called Moschaton, Moscatel is the wine from Lebanon, and Portugal produces the famed Moscatel de Setubal and Moscatel de Favaios.
Overall, Moscato is a wine that has been made for centuries, if not millennia, and continues to be a favourite with wine-drinkers all over the world for good reason: it can be sweet or it can be dry, it has a beautiful floral, citrus fruity aroma accompanied by a fruity flavour that can be big or can be subtle, according to the price one pays. The wine’s slight fizziness intensifies all the flavours, and when served ice-cold a glass of Moscato is no longer just a drink, it becomes an experience. Although prices do start at the very low end of the spectrum, it is no reflection on quality and even a person who doesn’t have much to spend on a bottle of wine will find he or she can do no wrong with an inexpensive bottle of Moscato.s