Moscato – The New White Wine

The past few months there has been a spike in the sales of Moscato d’Asti, so let’s talk about it. Moscato has been around since the 50′s and has never been this popular. There is also Muscat Ottonel which makes dessert wines in Austria, Orange Muscat which makes dessert wines in California, and many other related varieties.  For this discussion all tend to be called simply “Muscat”… one name – a fairly wide range of flavors.

 Trends are always triggered and come and go for several random reasons and Moscato may be in this category.  It is becoming the beverage of choice in the rap and hip hop music. Many hip hop and rappers are starting to mention Moscato in their lyrics: Still over in Brazil/Sipping moscato/You must have forgot though/So I’ma take it back to the block, yo.” – Lil Kim (Lighters up) “It’s a celebration/ clap clap bravo/ lobster & shrimp & a glass of moscato…finish the whole bottle” Trey Songs ft. Dreake (Invented Sex) to name a few.

 Moscato seems to be a popular white wine among new wine lovers and enjoys a significant following with the more seasoned wine enthusiasts who enjoy a lighter-styled wine with brunch, dessert or on its own as an aperitif. This unique wine is often labeled simply as “Moscato” or if it’s bred and born in Italy’s Northwest region of Piedmont, its full name is Moscato d’Asti named after the grape, Moscato, and the Italian town of Asti. (A close relative of Piedmont’s Asti Spumante,) Moscato d’Asti is generally produced in smaller quantities and in a more delicate style than Spumante. Moscato d’Astia DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) is a sparkling white wine produced mainly in the province of Asti, north-west Italy, and in smaller nearby regions in the provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo.

It is from the Moscato Bianco grape. The wine is sweet and low in alcohol, less then 6% and often enjoyed with dessert and can be considered a dessert wine. Moscato d’Asti is characterized by its freshness, elegant floral aromas and delicate flavors of peaches and apricots light-body, semi-sparkling, spritzy character (frizzante), lower alcohol content and its dazzling fruit-forward palate profile with a sweet factor. It is generally fuller and more complex, though not as crisp, and is considered to display more finesse than its sibling.

     This wine is usually partnered with dessert, particularly with the classic panettone, fruit tarts, or with dry pastries made with hazelnuts or almonds. The wine’s color leans towards straw yellow with occasional tinges of gold.

     The aromatics are amazing – orange blossom, honeysuckle, almonds, ginger, green grapes, citrus tones and hints of ripe peach. On the palate, you can expect an impressive lineup of fresh, forward fruit with sugar levels ranging from semi-sweet to sweet and wrapped in medium acidity. From pear and apple, to orange and lime with consistent appearances in the ripe, juicy peach and apricot category, Moscato’s flavors are extraordinarily fruit-filled. The delicate cascade of bubbles, light body and sweet surprise culminate to woo and win many unsuspecting palates to the wide world of wine.

Intended to be consumed young, while it’s fresh and vibrant, Moscato needs to be served well chilled, about 45degrees and is downright delicious with apple desserts, fresh berries, summer salads, meringue pies, peach cobbler, hazelnut desserts and lemon-poppy breads and cakes. My favorite is with a big juicy caramel apple. While dessert is Moscato’s forte, mild cheeses or antipasto plates can be perfect pairings for Moscato d’Asti wines. Its versatility, with a definitive balance of sweet and acidity, and the lower alcohol also make Moscato an ideal aperitif candidate, though it has certainly earned its stripes as the wine world’s most fashionable brunch-time guest as well.

With pricing, called the ‘’sweet 16’ (dollars) the majority of the Moscato are priced at or near $16.  Moscatos sold at the lower price points typically exhibit less fruit focus and a more heavy dose of sweet, while the higher quality Moscato steers quite clear of sugar and puts the spotlight on ripe apricots, peaches and a florality eager to peak your interest and if you’re willing to spend between $15 and $20, you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy.

Moscato is a wine that finds friends in all circles. Fun, festive and full of sweet flavor, this is a white wine sparkler that can start a party. Pour it at baby showers, serve it with wedding cake. “It’s a happy wine,” It tastes like it is a lot more expensive than it really is, which makes it a great gift. And at 4 to 6 percent alcohol, at no point is it going to hit you over the head.

Not only are Moscato wines sweet and tasty, they are also healthy. Medical research shows that wines are filled with flavonoids which are known to purify the heart and increase healthy blood circulation in the body. If you are worried about the calories don’t be,1 glass of Moscato wine contains about 123 calories, as compared to other types of wine.

Far be it from me to entice anyone into daytime drinking, but if you do feel like a drink on a weekend afternoon then this would be a delicious one to choose. It is lovely with strawberries.  So, along with a bowlful of fruit, a bottle also makes a great dessert at the end of dinner. It may be fizzy but flutes aren’t required here, ordinary wine glasses do the job, and I for one will be hoping for some more weekend sun so I can crack open another bottle. So enjoy this sweet wine and its benefits.

Cheers,

Chris

Sue Baxter