Moscato is a lightly sparkling, low-alcohol sweet, white wine.
Moscato wine is derived from the muscat family of grapes, which include over 200 grape varieties belonging to the Vitis Vinifera species that have been used in wine production – and as raisin and table grapes – around the globe for many centuries.
These grapes are today grown all over the world, though authentic Moscato d’Asti, and Asti Spumante – which are two popular varieties of Moscato wine – can only be made in Piedmont, Italy.
Today we’ll be talking all things Moscato wine, including its taste profile and characteristics, region and varieties, as well as the food this wine compliments.
At a Glance
- Origin: Piedmont, Italy
- Regions: Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Pantelleria, California, Australia, Spain, Germany
- Sweetness: Very sweet to semi-sweet
- Color: Pale yellow to light red
- ABV: 5–13%
Moscato Taste Profile
The most popular Moscato wine is Moscato d’Asti, which is semi-sparkling and is famous for its perfume-like fragrance and light body.
It has a fruit-forward profile, with a sweet taste and notes of orange blossom, honeysuckle, almond, ginger and bright fruits such as green grapes, citrus and ripe peach. It also has a low alcohol content.
The delicate bubbles and refreshing lightness of this wine – as well as its sweet flavor profile – make it a popular choice for a summer’s day, brunch, or even for serving as a dessert wine.
Varieties of Moscato Wine
Moscato wine comes in many different varieties. These are the most famous Italian versions:
Moscato d’Asti: this is a lightly sparkling (frizzante), slightly sweet, low-alcohol white wine which is about 5.5.%
Asti Supamante: this has a higher alcohol content of around 9%.
Moscato di Pantelleria: this is an amber wine made on the island of Pantelleria and it’s customary to drink this beverage on April 13, which is the feast day of St. Martin. There’s also a dessert version made from dried grapes that’s known as Passito.
Moscato Rosa: This is a sweet red version of the wine, which has berry flavors and a hint of spice, and originates from the Trentino-Alto Aldige region of Italy.
There are also some American moscato wines which can include:
White Moscato: Similar to Moscato d’Asti, lightly sparkling and sweet
Pink Moscato: A ‘rose’ version of white Moscato with a little red wine added to the mix
Red Moscato: Features more red wine and is more full-bodied
Sparkling Moscato: This one is similar to Asti Spumante
Regions and Varieties
While Moscato is a well-known variety of wine, it actually refers to a whole family of grapes – the ‘Muscat’ grape family – which are a variety of grapes that can be made into still, sparkling, red, white, rose, sweet and fortified wines.
The colors of this family of grapes can be just as varied as the wine they produce and can range from white grapes such as Muscat Ottonel to the yellow Moscato Giallo, the pink Moscato rosa del Trentino, and the near-black Muscat Hamburg.
However, wines that are derived from Muscat grapes are all alike in their pronounced, floral aroma and sweet taste.
Muscat grapes are so varied and diverse that they are thought to be the oldest domesticated grape variety, and there are theories that most families within the Vitis Vinifera grape variety originate from the Muscat grape.
Moscato Bianco is the family of white Muscat grapes that include Muscat Blanc, Alexandria, and Blanc à Petits Grains, and these have been cultivated for hundreds of years. These grapes are used to make DOCG-certified Moscato d’Asti as well as Asti Spumante.
The DOCG certification stands for “Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita,” or, in English, “controlled and guaranteed designation of origin.”
It means the wine is made in a specific region according to specific quality regulations. These regulations are in place to certify whether or not the wine is genuine – ie. produced in Italy’s Piedmont region.
Moscato grapes require a dry, sunny climate and cool nights in order to thrive, and they’re usually harvested mid-late season, depending on the grape’s location and variety.
Italy is of course the most famous producer of Muscato wine, which is best known as Muscato d’Asti from Asti in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.
However, Muscat grapes are grown and harvested all over the world. In France, they are used to make light, dry wines in Alsace and dessert wines like Beaumes-de-Venise in the Rhône Valley, while in Germany, Muscat grapes can be found in the Pfalz region under the Muskateller name.
In Austria, you’ll find them in the Wachau region, and in Spain, they thrive in Penedès.
Moscato d’Asti is sweet and mellow with low alcohol content, making it perfect to balance out the spiciness of dishes such as Sichuan beef, Thai crab curry, or spicy Cajun-style chicken wings.
It also pairs well with Salty snacks like nuts, cured meats, and cheese platters, which counterbalance the Moscato’s sweetness.
However, Moscato doesn’t necessarily need to be used to balance out a dish, in fact, it is also perfect for accentuating sweet ones.
It makes a perfect dessert wine due to its light bubbles and sweet taste, making it ideal for pairing with tart apple desserts, meringue pies, and even breakfast or brunch dishes such as pancakes or waffles. Moscato is even sweet enough to be a dessert in its own right!
How to Serve Moscato
Moscato should be served in a white wine glass or tumbler and should be served at around 50 degrees.
Fizzante and sparkling varieties are best served chilled, and fortified dessert Moscato should be served at cellar temperature (60 to 70 degrees ). Fortified wines are usually also served in smaller volumes of about three ounces.
Whether you’re enjoying a glass of Moscato at a dinner party or enjoying a casual brunch with friends, this wine is sweet, refreshing, and easy to drink.
Moscato d’Asti is definitely the most famous of the Moscato varieties, and this lightly sparkling wine has a low alcohol content, making it a great accompaniment to a variety of dishes.