Want to explore all about Moscato wine and pick the best ones to buy?
Sweet Moscato wine, especially Moscato d’Asti, is known for its sweet and fragrant aroma and fruity flavors. Its low alcohol content and light body make it a perfect wine for a festive drink like Sangria.
Where does Moscato wine come from? What are the different styles, and which Moscato wine bottles should you have in your wine cellar?
In this article, explore all about Moscato wine - the Moscato wine styles, the best food to serve it with, and the best Moscato wines to buy in 2020.
What’s more? You’ll also discover the smartest way to buy wine bottles, including the best sweet wines!
This Article Contains
- What is Moscato Wine?
- A Brief History of Moscato Grape
- Moscato Wine Styles
- Food Pairing with Moscato Wine
- Best Moscato Wine (to Buy) 2020 (Including Prices)
- 1875 D'Oliveiras Moscatel Reserva Vintage, Madeira, Portugal
- 1988 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine, Constantia, South Africa
- 1955 José Maria da Fonseca Moscatel de Setúbal, Portugal
- 2012 Castel Sallegg Moscato Rosa Sudtirol - Alto Adige, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
- 1952 Massandra Rose - Pink Muscat, Crimea
- 2014 Weingut Hans Johann Schwarz Gold Muskat Strohwein, Burgenland, Austria
- 2014 Groot Constantia Grand Constance Muscat, Constantia, South Africa
- 2018 Azienda Agricola Serragghia 'Riserva Genevieve' Zibibbo Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily, Italy
- 2011 Ca' d'Gal Vigna Vecchia, Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Italy
- 2015 Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher Kollektion Rosenmuskateller Trockenbeerenauslese, Burgenland, Austria
What is Moscato Wine?
Moscato is a sweet wine made from the Muscat family of grapes. Moscato wines are highly aromatic and give off diverse flavors from fresh fruit like peach and apricot to citrus notes of lemon, tangerines, and orange blossom.
These aromatic, dessert wines are often compared to Riesling wines. But, the high level of residual sugar makes Moscato sweeter than Riesling wines.
The United States is the main producer of Muscat wine, followed by Italy, France, Australia, Spain, South Africa, and Chile.
The Muscat grape has a colorful past - let’s take a peek into that!
A Brief History of the Muscat Grape
The history of the Muscat grape goes back a few centuries. Muscat Blanc or Moscato Bianco (the oldest Muscat grape) is said to have originated in the hot and humid Mediterranean region in the 12th century.
It was the Greeks and Romans who brought the Moscato Bianco Muscat grape to France with their expanding empires. Although Germany is now known for its Riesling wines, a few 12th-century German documents record the use of Muscat grapes several years before Riesling was grown.
Over the centuries, the Muscat grape was planted throughout Europe and other continents like Australia, North America, and Africa. Winemakers tried out a range of breeding and winemaking techniques, which is why you’ll find an incredibly wide range of Muscat grape varieties and wines today!
Types of Muscat Grapes
There are over 200 Muscat varieties across the globe, and each one produces wines with unique flavors and textures.
Here are some of the most popular Muscat grapes.
1. Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains
Muscat Blanc (also known as Moscato Bianco or Muscat Canelli) is used to make a wide range of wines - from dry wine to sweet dessert wine.
The Muscat Blanc flavor profile is rich with Meyer lemon, peach, honeysuckle, and orange blossom notes.
Around 75% of the world’s Muscat Blanc grapes are grown in Piedmont, Italy. That’s why the Muscat Blanc is a key ingredient in Italian wines. The Canelli region of Asti appellation in Piedmont produces some of the best Muscat grape wines.
If you’re a Muscat Blanc wine lover, get your hands on a Bartenura Moscato or a Barefoot sparkling moscato!
2. Muscat Rouge a Petits Grains
Muscat Rouge is said to have originated in Greece. It is a white wine grape and produces citrus notes and fruit flavors just like the Muscat Blanc.
3. Muscat of Alexandria
Widely cultivated in Spain and Italy, the Muscat of Alexandria grape is equally popular as a table grape and in winemaking. Winemakers use this Muscat to produce both still and sparkling wine.
You’ll love the sweet nectarine flavors of ripe peach, and white flowers with low alcohol (typically under 10% ABV.)
4. Muscat Hamburg
Moscato Hamburg or Black Muscat, is a late harvest grape used to produce sweet wine with low alcohol content. Black Muscat is grown in California, Australia, France, Greece, and Italy.
Interestingly, it doesn’t have an intense floral aroma - unlike other Muscat varieties. That’s why red wines made with Black Muscat are usually blended with wines from richer Moscato grapes to add more flavor.
You can have a Black Muscat wine as both aperitif and as a digestive.
5. Moscato Giallo
Moscato Giallo is a white wine grape that prefers hilly limestone terroirs and is widely grown in Italian Alps. It makes sweet dessert wines with flavors of baked apples and light citrus notes.
Depending on the winemaker, this Moscato wine can have 10% to 13% ABV.
6. Moscato Rosa
Moscato Rosa is a highly-aromatic red-skinned wine grape widely grown in Italy. It is often blended with the Muscat Blanc grape to produce sweet rose wines with floral aromas of honeysuckle, rose petals, and orange blossom.
Its intense floral aroma and sweet fruit flavors like peach make it a good blending grape in Castello del Poggio Moscato wines.
7. Muscat Ottonel
Created in 1852 in France, Muscat Ottonel is a young Muscat grape variety. This white wine grape is used to make a range of wine styles - from light-bodied dry wine to rich and luscious dessert wine.
Muscat Ottonel white wine has fresh acidity and low alcohol levels that make it perfect to be consumed with a dessert like hazelnut biscotti!
Now, let’s dive into the different styles of Moscato wine.
Moscato Wine Styles
Moscato wines are known to be rich and effervescent. You’ll find Moscato sweet wines in a range of styles from red wines, white wines, to Frizzante (semi sparkling wine), and sparkling wines.
Here are the five typical Muscat wine styles.
1. Still Moscato
As the name suggests, still Muscat wine doesn’t have bubbles. This wine is made mainly from the Muscat Blanc grape variety and other Moscato grape varieties like the Muscat of Alexandria.
Still Moscato wine has a sweet fruity aroma that often tricks the brain, and the wine seems much sweeter than it actually is. But if you are a wine snob, it won’t be difficult for you to judge its semi-sweet taste.
If you want a taste of Moscato still wines, try Moscatel from Spain and Muskateller from Austria.
2. Semi-Sparkling and Sparkling Moscato
Some of the best examples of wines made in this style are the Italian Moscato wines, often described as Spumante (sparkling wine) or Frizzante (semi sparkling wine). Moscato d’Asti is another popular semi sparkling Moscato wine, whereas Asti Spumante is known for its bubbly appearance.
Semi-sparkling and sparkling Moscato wines are sweeter than still Moscato. Their high sweetness levels are perfectly balanced with mild acidity and a slightly mineral taste.
Meanwhile, check out this ultimate guide on the best Sparkling Wines to Buy in 2020.
3. Pink Moscato
Often compared with Champagne, Pink Moscato is a sparkling Moscato wine with a salmon pink color and an attractive fizz.
It is processed as a white wine made from the Muscat Blanc grape. A dash of Merlot is added to give the wine its color.
Although Merlot is a dry wine grape, it adds sweet red fruit flavors of raspberry and cherries to the Pink Moscato dessert wine.
The Barefoot Pink Moscato from California is an excellent fizzy Pink Moscato sparkling wine to drink on a casual dinner.
4. Red Moscato
A very difficult wine to find, Red Moscato is made from the rare Black Muscat grape. The red Moscato flavor profile is often described with a unique flavor of fresh berries and floral aroma of violet and rose petals. You may also get a subtle taste of black tea and licorice in a black Muscat wine.
5. Moscato Dessert Wine
One of the most popular Moscato wine styles, the Moscato Dessert Wine is known for its extremely sweet flavor of nectarines and honeysuckle. They have low alcohol content (5%-7% ABV) and a high sweetness level.
Usually, Moscato dessert wines are naturally sweet or unfortified, but you may find some great fortified dessert wines too.
If you want to try some of the popular Moscato dessert wines, get gold of a Moscatel Sherry from Spain, Moscatel de Setúbal from Portugal, or French Muscat de Rivesaltes.
Food Pairing With Moscato Wine
Moscato’s sweet taste and moderate acidity make it perfect to be served with spicy food. You can also serve them with cured meat dishes - the high salt content balances the sweetness of the wine.
If you want to pair a sweet Moscato wine with cheese, go for medium to firm cheese varieties.
You can also serve Moscato wine as an aperitif.
How to Serve Moscato Wine?
Moscato wines do not need decanting - serve them straight out of the bottle at 40℉ to 50℉ (4℃ to 10℃).
Best Moscato Wines (to Buy) 2020 (Including Prices)
Looking for the best Moscato wine is like opening a Pandora’s box. Here are some of our best Moscato wine suggestions.
1. 1875 D'Oliveiras Moscatel Reserva Vintage, Madeira, Portugal
The 1875 D'Oliveiras Moscatel Reserva Vintage Madeira is made from the Muscat grape variety. Extremely sweet on the palate, it has a dominant flavor of chocolate and caramel. This sweet Moscato also gives subtle hints of nuts, sweet spices, and dried fruit. You may even notice a slight hint of passion fruit on the palate.
On the nose, you get a hint of orange blossom - a Riesling aroma.
Best served with spicy food like Thai Curry and Szechuan Dish.
Average price of 1875 D'Oliveiras Moscatel Reserva Vintage, Madeira, Portugal: $1,296
Before we move on, here’s a fun fact!
For almost two centuries, the wines made in Madeira remained unknown to the world. It was in the mid-17th century that these exotic beverages were discovered through Portuguese trade to India and Brazil.
2. 1988 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine, Constantia, South Africa
The 1988 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine is produced in the Klein Constantia winery, one of the most popular wine producers of South Africa. They also produce a range of dry wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties.
The wine gives off Moscato d’Asti taste with distinct fresh fruit flavor including peach, apricots, and apples balanced with the citrus note of Meyer lemon and tangerine orange. You will also get subtle spicy notes of ginger and cinnamon.
Serve it with spicy food or as an aperitif.
Average price of 1988 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine, Constantia, South Africa: $2,867
3. 1955 José Maria da Fonseca Moscatel de Setúbal, Portugal
This Moscato wine from Portugal is made from the highly aromatic Muscat of Alexandria grape. It is a fortified dessert wine and has a primary flavor of honey, caramel, and toffee with subtle ripe peach hints. It has a distinct aroma of orange blossoms and rose petals that give freshness to the wine.
Moderately sweet on the palate, the 1955 José Maria da Fonseca Moscatel de Setubal is best paired with chocolate desserts, cheese, and fruit salad.
This wine region is also famous for its varietal wines made from Muscat, Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz grape varieties.
Average price of 1955 José Maria da Fonseca Moscatel de Setúbal, Portugal: $1,149
4. 2012 Castel Sallegg Moscato Rosa Sudtirol - Alto Adige, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
The 2012 Castel Sallegg Moscato Rosa red wine comes from the Sudtirol appellation in Trentino-Alto Adige wine region of Italy. The popular grape varieties of the region include Moscato, Schiava, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio.
A Moscato Rosa wine from the heart of Moscato wine producers, this red wine is extremely sweet on the palate. The sweetness of the wine goes well with the red fruit flavors of raspberry and strawberry. You also get subtle tropical fruit notes on the palate.
Average price of 2012 Castel Sallegg Moscato Rosa Sudtirol - Alto Adige, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy: $384
Another good red wine for a sweet Moscato wine lover is Barefoot Red Moscato. This Moscato brand produces red wine with low alcohol content (9% ABV), and the wine has a red fruit flavor of cherry and raspberry.
5. 1952 Massandra Rose - Pink Muscat, Crimea
Although the Massandra winery has produced some great varietal wines, it is mostly known for its white wines made from Muscat Blanc grapes.
The 1952 Massandra Rose is a delicious Pink Moscato wine made from the Muscatel grape in the Crimean wine region.
This Pink Moscato wine has a tropical fruit flavor with subtle hints of raisins and dried apricots.
Average price of 1952 Massandra Rose - Pink Muscat, Crimea: $409
6. 2014 Weingut Hans Johann Schwarz Gold Muskat Strohwein, Burgenland, Austria
This golden-colored wine is made from sun-dried Muscat Giallo grapes. It has an intense flavor of tropical fruit like juicy peach and apricots. The Weingut Hans Johann is also famous for its Bordeaux blend and Cabernet - Merlot - Zweigelt blend wines.
Average price of 2014 Weingut Hans Johann Schwarz Gold Muskat Strohwein: $159
7. 2014 Groot Constantia Grand Constance Muscat, Constantia, South Africa
This Cape Town wine producer grows several grape varieties, including Muscat de Frontignan, Pinotage (a crossbreed of Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc.
This white wine has dominant fresh fruit flavors of apricot, peach, and caramel. The high sweetness level of this white Moscato is balanced by the citrus notes of orange blossom and marmalade.
Serve this sweet white wine with spicy Thai appetizers.
Average price of 2014 Groot Constantia Grand Constance Muscat, Constantia, South Africa: $201
8. 2018 Azienda Agricola Serragghia 'Riserva Genevieve' Zibibbo Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily, Italy
An extremely sweet white Moscato with a medium body and low tannins, this wine is made from Muscat of Alexandria grapes. You get a fruity taste of peach and Lychee with the sweetness of honey. It is balanced with notes of citrus fruits like mandarin orange.
This sweet white wine goes best with cheddar and Gruyere cheese. You can also serve it with a chocolate dessert and dried fruit dishes.
Average price of 2018 Azienda Agricola Serragghia 'Riserva Genevieve' Zibibbo Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily, Italy: $271
9. 2011 Ca' d'Gal Vigna Vecchia, Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Italy
The 2011 Ca' d'Gal Vigna Vecchia Moscato d’Asti is a semi sparkling wine (frizzante) from the Asti DOCG located in the southeastern Piedmont region of Italy. It is a medium-bodied wine with balanced acidity.
This fizzy, sweet flavor Moscato d’Asti wine is dominated by fruity flavors of apricot and peach.
Relish its delicate floral aromas as you sip a glass of this Moscato d’Asti DOCG Muscat Blanc wine!
Average price of 2011 Ca' d'Gal Vigna Vecchia, Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Italy: $89
If you’re a Moscato d’Asti wine lover, then you can also try the Cascinetta Vietti Moscato d’Asti wine or Saracco 2018 Moscato d’Asti wine - much loved for its honeysuckle and nectarine flavors.
10. 2015 Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher Kollektion Rosenmuskateller Trockenbeerenauslese, Burgenland, Austria
This sweet red grape wine - made from Moscato Rosa grape variety, comes from the Kracher winery in Burgenland, Austria.
The thin skin of this Moscato grape dehydrates the water in the grape and concentrates the sugar leaving the winemaker with a sweet grape juice. The sweet fruity flavor of plums is balanced by the spicy notes of cloves and cinnamon.
This great wine is best served with spicy food like spicy Vietnamese cuisine.
Average price of 2015 Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher Kollektion Rosenmuskateller Trockenbeerenauslese, Burgenland, Austria: $112
Apart from these wines, check out some of the other popular Moscato wine brands such as
- Barefoot Moscato (California)
- Bartenura Moscato
- Castello del Poggio Moscato
- Cupcake Moscato
- Sutter Home Moscato
Bartenura Moscato and Sutter Home sweet Moscato varietals are famous for their fizzy texture, fresh fruit flavors (mostly tropical fruits), and hints of honeysuckle and orange blossom.
Moscato wines are perfect for celebrating any grand occasion or just a casual brunch. They’re best to drink young.
But, if you want to invest in wines for the long term, Moscato may not be your best choice.
For that, a much better option would be to select wines with good aging potential - for example, sweet wines, French red wines, and so on.
In the case of sweet wines, the residual sugar acts as a preservative and some of them can easily age for 20-30 years. Some dessert wines - like Sauternes and Tokaji Aszu - have high amounts of residual sugar and can age up to 50 years.
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There is a Moscato for every wine lover out there - to raise a toast at a wedding or to accompany a cozy brunch with friends! Just pick a Castello del Poggio Moscato, a Moscato d’Asti, a Saracco Moscato, an Asti Spumante or any other Moscato of your choice from a reputed wine store near you.
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