Moscato is the hot new trend in grape varieties right now, taking the US by storm last year, with sales growing at over 80%; it’s the new wine craze in the US, and represents almost 4% of the entire US wine sales, partly due to the hype and endorsement of US urban music and hip hop artists, Kanye West, Ne-Yo and Lil’Kim.
Now Moscato is set to take the UK by storm, with an increase of 70% in sales in the last year, making it the fastest growing style of wine or grape variety.
What is Moscato?
Moscato is simply, one of the many variants of the Muscat, one of the oldest grape varieties in the world
Moscato has been grown in northern Italy for centuries, and is the country’s 4th most widely planted grape variety. It’s best known as Moscato di Canelli, the grape that is grown in the Piedmont region of north west of Italy, and has been making Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti or Moscato Spumante for centuries.
Whilst traditional Muscat wines are sticky, heavy dessert wines, in Piemonte, the Moscato grape is used to make light, fresh, frothy, sweet, yet lively sparkling wines, with low levels of alcohol. The Moscato is a delicate grape, that ripens quickly and burns in the sun, so it is harvested early and is best seen in these fresher, lighter styles of wine.
For many years these wines had a poor reputation, and were unfairly dismissed by UK wine drinkers, as cheap, sweet sparkling wine, despite their deliciously fresh, easy drinking flavours.
There are also many still versions of Moscato, which are now growing increasingly popular, from all over the world, but one of the most favourite styles, has a light spritz ( otherwise meansing very gently sparkling),and is known as frizzante.
This style was adopted, from the Italian style in the US, in the early noughties, whereas traditionally California had also produced, the heavy, sweet, sticky version of Muscat de Alexandria , as it was known over there.
Now, with a total transformation of character, and a change of name, it’s creating waves all over the world.
Where is it from?
Historically, it’s from north west Italy, but with its new fashion status, our shelves are now filling up fast with fruity Moscatos from all over the world.
The Muscat grape has been grown all over the world for centuries, but in places like California and Australia, it’s only been in recent years, that wine producers have started to change the use of this grape from the traditional, sticky, sweet dessert wine, to this fashionable new style of fresh, fruity, lightly sparkling wine.
Top producer at the moment is the US, but Australia also has a strong heritage of Moscato, and there are now some interesting new Moscato wines coming from Chile and Argentina.
In summary, watch this space – Muscat is grown all over the world, so it’s only a matter of time until more countries leap onto the new style Moscato bandwagon!
What does Moscato taste like?
Moscato type wines are deliciously fruity, sweet, lively, frothy wines – one of the few wines, that actually tastes of fresh grapes! The best Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti really do taste of fruity, fizzy fresh grape juice. They must be drunk very cold, preferably , on a hot sunny day, or with a deliciously fruit and cream dessert.
The highly popular Moscato wines now coming out of the US and Australia, are usually,lightly sparkling, and deliciously refreshing, with the added benefit of being under 10% in alcohol ( usually about 8.5%, but often as low as 5.5%). So they are perfect lunchtime and picnic wines.
Moscato has one of the most enchanting and beguiling aromas of any grape variety, and one whiff of its glorious honeysuckle, elderflower and lychee aromas, will bring a smile to most wine drinkers’ faces! It’s very aromatic, with a hint of rose petals, and on the palate, it’s a burst of fresh, sweet , grapey fruit, laced with elderflowers, honey and citrus. It tastes sweet, but light, and it has a delightful freshness, and a refreshing tang.
Increasingly popular is Pink Moscato, which is a flirtatiously fruity pink version. Made from the same grape, it’s tinged with a hint of Rose wine, to give it a pretty pink edge.
Matching Moscato and food
The ultimate accompaniment for Moscato is a bowl of strawberries! Chilled, frothy wine, ripe, succulent strawberries, and preferably a warm summer’s day, would be the perfect scenario.
As a total contrast, Asti Spumante, has been a great Christmas favourite with lovers of this wine, for years, because it’s fresh, refreshing sweetness cuts through the richness of Christmas pudding and mince pies!
Moscato wines are perfect lunchtime of picnic wines, because of their naturally lower levels of alcohol.
Due to their light, refreshing style, generally these styles of wine are best suited, to fruit and cream- based desserts, such as pavlova, strawberry tarts, and even more sturdy fruit crumbles. They don’t tend to go quite so well with chocolate desserts, as the richness of the chocolate engulfs them. But a chilled glass with a plate of macaroons, or almond biscuits, would work perfectly.
The Best Moscato?
Some of the highly rated new style Moscatos, are coming from California’s top brands. In the prestigious What Food What Wine awards, a team of top wine experts voted both Barefoot Moscato and Gallo Family Vinyards Moscato as their top choice to go with apple crumble and custard! Barefoot Moscato also won a commended award in the International Wine Challenge.