Is Moscato Dessert Wine? Well, yes, at least a certain variety of the wine does and can be classified into an exclusive variety of the ‘dessert wine’. But more on that later in the blog; let us take some time into the serene vineyards of Italy to appreciate the making of the famed ‘Moscato Dessert Wine’. Essentially, this is a sweet Italian wine that is known for its ‘fruity tone’ and is made from the special ‘Muscat grapes’.
The famed Moscato Dessert Wine is made from selected Peaches, Orange Blossom, and the very popular Muscat Grapes. This variety comprises of low Alcohol content and hence, one of the main reasons for its reputation as the ‘Dessert wine’. As for the Muscat Grapes, these have been around for thousands of years and are available in 200 different varieties. This Grapes belong to the Vitis Vinifera species and are commonly known as table grapes. One can enjoy a wide variety of Muscat available, for instance, the Moscato wines from Muscat a Petit Grains Rouge, also known as red Frontignac or brown Muscat.
While Italy is famous for the Muscat Grapes, nevertheless, these are also available across the globe in countries like France and Spain as well and also Australia in the past few years.
Though it is considered to be a ‘sweet wine’, nevertheless, the mode of preparation is directly decided by the winemaker, along with the style they are aiming at. The mild sweetness is low in acidity due to the residual sugar levels. The Moscato di Asti style wine is one of the most popular Moscato Dessert wines. This is prepared popularly in Italy from a place called ‘Asti’, located in the Piedmont area in North Western Italy. Apart from the exclusive taste and flavor, these are a winner when it comes to the fragrance that they offer. The aromas are a fine blend of mandarin, ripe pear, orange blossom, and honeysuckle on the palate.
The fun does not stop here, as the Moscato Dessert Wines also impart the floral characteristics of Rose Petals and Rose water flavors as well. Along with this, one cannot miss the distinctive Turkish delight and Wild Strawberries as well. With a low alcoholic content of 5-6%, it is quite popular, as it is prepared in a lighter-bodied style, along with the fine Bubble and Bead. Don’t be surprised if you spot a characteristic Moscato wine in the core of some of the most popular cocktails.
Characteristics of Dessert Wines
As much has been mentioned about the Dessert Wines, what are these anyways? Well, to start with, these are sweet after-dinner drinks that have been prepared using a wide variety of Grapes and different preparation methods. These are termed as such because these are sweeter as compared to the other Wine varieties and might also comprise higher Alcohol content in comparison. These comprise many fortified, sweet red, and sparkling wines. These are so delicious and complete in all true sense that one can enjoy them simply with a simple cheese platter. So, how are these manufactured or made:
1. Late Harvest
This is because the Grapes harvested later are riper and sweeter. Likewise, the Grapes can even be left to wither on the vine for more concentrated sweetness.
Fortified wines are prepared by adding another spirit, such as brandy, to the wine. This ensures it increases the alcohol content and halts fermentation. On the other hand, Dry wines, in contrast, are fermented until most of the sugar has converted to alcohol.
3. Noble Rot
This is when Botrytis cinerea fungus attacks ripe grapes; the grapes become quite sweet and produce highly ageable wines.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular dessert Wines
This means “ice wine” and is an unfortified sweet wine from Germany and Austria. It features grapes known as Riesling that have been allowed to freeze on the vine, concentrating both their sweetness and acidity.
This designation means “berry selection” in German. It is a name given to wines in Germany and Austria that are prepared using grapes, such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer, that have been affected by noble rot.
This is a category of unfortified Italian dried-grape wines. Drying the grapes concentrates the sugars, which results in a sweeter, more alcoholic wine. Most popular Italian wines are also made as a passito, such as Brachetto d’Acqui and Moscato di Pantelleria -Muscat of Alexandria.
The Sweetness Spectrum of Moscato Wines
As mentioned earlier, the characteristic ‘Sweetness’ of the Moscato Dessert wines makes it such a famed beverage. A nice glass of Moscato tastes like an excellent bubble bath with all things fruity, frothy, and enjoyable. A mouthful is refreshingly new each time, and one cannot get enough of it. However, most regulars would not be decided upon whether the wine is ‘sweet’ or ‘dry’. However, one can easily state that the wine is soft sweet, fruity, and flirty as well. However, it does comprise a certain off-dry to sweet nature that makes it much of a Marmite wine.
The characteristic sweetness of the wine comes from the Muscat grapes these are prepared from, which are high sugar levels. So, one can say that the high sugar content comes from the residual Sugars that have been leftover from the Yeast infection after fermentation.
- Alcohol Levels – Moscato wines are as light as they are sweet, with alcohol levels never crossing over the 10% ABV mark.
- Sweetness Level – Moscato wines can differ across regions and makers, but as a rule, they are off-dry to sweet wines.
- Acidity Level – Moscato comprises lovely acidity levels, about medium-high on the scale. This allows us to balance out the sweetness of the wine.
- Tannin Level – Moscato has no tannins, which keeps the style light and fresh.
- Body – These wines have a very light body, which is perfect for such a floral and aromatic style of wine.
Moscato as a Dessert Wine
The Moscato is one of the most widely enjoyed Dessert wines, perfect for after-dinner options. These can be consumed instead of dessert as it is quite sweet and fruity at the same time. Today Moscato wines are an important part of pop culture. You will find noticeable mentions in social media content, songs, and lyrics. This is also because it makes for a complete excuse for a celebration, where a nice glass seems to be a perfect addition to the entire festive mood, as it symbolizes luxury.
The other reason why it is considered to be a Dessert wine is that it clubs well with fruit-based desserts like Peach Cobbler and Berry tart. Hence you will find yourself gravitating towards opting for a Moscato for weddings and graduations.
Varieties of Moscato
Did you know that Moscato is available in various flavors and aromas? Well, let us take a ‘sip’ into some of the best-known options:
- Moscato d’Asti – This is a sparkling Moscato variety prepared in the Asti region of Italy, hence the namesake. This type of sweet Moscato is fizzy with lots of floral aromatics and fresh acidity, hence making for a perfect poolside wine.
- Pink Moscato – Not only can you choose from the sweet Moscato, but you can also get pink Moscato! A little Merlot is often added here to form luscious sunset colors and beautiful strawberry aromas in the glass.
- Moscato Dessert Wines – In France, Spain, and Portugal, even sweeter varieties of Moscato wines can be found. These are generally termed after the Muscat grape used to make the wine. Think of it as the regular Moscato, but concentrated. Hence you get lots of rich, succulent dried fruit and honeyed aromatics.
Pairing Moscato with Food
1. Spicy Food
Moscato’s sweetness and low alcohol content are a perfect pair with the fiery fare from all over the world. You can club Moscato with Thai larb, Indian vindaloo curries, habanero-spiked chicken wings, or anything with mouth-tingling Sichuan peppercorns.
2. Cured Meats
Prosciutto, salami, jamón ibérico, and much more, as the high salt content balances the sweetness of Moscato.
A platter with crunchy veggies such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, and radishes would partner well with the bubbly Moscato d’Asti.
Various aromatic spices such as turmeric, saffron, ginger, cardamom, and others are often found in spicy dishes that can be easily balanced with the sweet Moscato.
5. Soft or Pungent Cheeses
Soft, creamy Brie and Camembert can easily compliment the Moscato’s bright, fruity punch without overpowering it. Likewise, the strong blue cheese requires a wine like Moscato to balance its saltiness. Moscato d’Asti or Passito di Pantelleria go well. Ensure to allow your cheese to arrive at room temperature to maximize its flavor profile.
6. Sweet Breakfasts
Breakfast options like pancakes or waffles that are topped with fruit compote or a dollop of whipped cream. Have a side of the fruity Moscato to make these flavors come alive.
7. Fruit Desserts
From pies to cobblers to semifreddo, any dessert with fruit or berry components goes well with the natural fruitiness of Moscato wine.
8. Vanilla Desserts
Sweet peach Moscato flavors perfectly balance the creaminess of a crème brûlée, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or even some rice pudding.
This is perhaps the best pairing of it all. Moscato d’Asti works wonders with vanilla cake, while Moscato Rosa or Red Moscato manages to coax the complexity out of chocolate cake.
Moscato vs. Traditional Dessert Wines
While Moscato fits the dessert wine profile, it deviates from the traditional mold in its lightness and effervescence. Unlike heavier dessert wines like Sauternes or Ice Wine, Moscato’s playfulness and lower alcohol content make it suitable for various occasions beyond dessert.
Common Misconceptions About Moscato
Despite being one of the best-known beverages out there, there happen to be quite a few misconceptions and confusion about the Moscato:
It is for Beginners as it is Sweet
Not at all. This wine variety is just as popular and sophisticated as it can get. However, a lot depends upon the kind of palate you have. The dessert wine varieties are popular and much in demand by people of all ages and experiences and for various occasions alike.
Most Best Wines Come from 'Famed' Regions in the World
Alright, but not quite. You will be surprised that there are quite a few unappreciated places in the world that make the best of wine. These include Moldova, the Czech Republic, South Africa, and Lebanon. The main reason is that these are hugely famous in the local region but have yet to be introduced to the rest of the world. However, you will be surprised and delighted with the flavors offered.
All Wines Comprise of the Same ABV
This is so untrue that it is almost a crime to state it. Every wine variety is distinct in its Alcohol content, and there are no ways to generalize it. For this, it is best to check the labels carefully.
The Older the Better
Much against popular belief, this isn’t true at all. At least, you should never age the White Wine. These are meant to be enjoyed fresh when all the slight flavors are still intact and can be appreciated.
As mentioned earlier, Moscato has made it to pop culture in more ways than one. A lot has to do with the rapid mention in Hip-hop and rap that the artists of our times are quick to jump into. The Moscato is also a regular in most media representations of luxury and sophistication in movies and music videos.
Is Moscato Dessert Wine?: Conclusion
In the world of wines, Moscato stands as a testament to the art of balance. Its inherent sweetness and lively character position it as a delightful companion to desserts while allowing it to shine in a multitude of scenarios. With a history steeped in tradition and a contemporary spirit, Moscato captures hearts, palates, and moments with every effervescent sip.
Is Moscato Dessert Wine?: FAQ's
Question 1. Is Moscato only sweet?
Answer: Yes, it is known for its sweet flavor.
Question 2. Is all Moscato sweet?
Answer: Yes, all Moscato are sweet.
Question 3. What are the primary flavor profiles of Moscato?
Answer: A deep inhale of your Moscato will offer you top notes of mint, lavender, citrus flowers, and cinnamon. The bottom notes will offer pleasant aromas of orange blossom, honeysuckle, almonds, ginger, green grapes, citrus, and ripe peach. Overall, the wine will have a nice floral, fruity fragrance.
Question 4. Can Moscato be paired with savory dishes?
Question 5. Can Moscato be enjoyed beyond dessert?
Answer: Yes, these are great on their own as well.
Question 6. Are there dry Moscato wines?
Answer: Yes, there are available dry Moscato Wines.
Question 7. What distinguishes Moscato from other sweet wines?
Answer: The lower ABV makes it different from the other Sweet wines.
Question 8. How is Moscato d'Asti different from other Moscato varieties?
Answer: Moscato d’ Asti does not go through a second round of fermentation process within the bottle.
Question 9. What are some popular Moscato food pairings?
Answer: Curries, Chicken Wings, and other Spicy foods go great with Moscato.
Question 10. Does the region of production affect Moscato's flavor?
Answer: Yes, it does.
Question 11. Can Moscato age well in the cellar?
Answer: Yes, a lot depends on the fruit and the bright acidity.