Muscat Wine Profile
Muscat is confusing. Is it a grape? Is it several grapes? Are Muscat, Muscato, Moscato, Muscadet, Muscadelle, and Muscadine all the same thing? The truth is, yes and no: what we call Muscat is actually more of a category of different strains of Muscat grapes. The most commonly produced Muscats are Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, which is the oldest in the family. We’ll circle back to all of its many monikers – and more importantly, which are not Muscat at all – a little later.
Muscat is best known for producing a variety of sweeter wines. They tend to be lower in alcohol, light-bodied and fun. Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante from Italy are famous examples of this light and approachable incarnations of the grape but it can also be used to produce dry, still wines, sparkling rosés and dessert wines. If you want light and sweet, Muscat is your go-to grape!
What Does Muscat Taste Like?
No matter how it’s vinified, Muscat wines have heady tangerine, mango, lychee, jasmine, beach rose and orange blossom notes. On the palate, expect those tropical fruit notes with zesty orange and sweeter spiciness. Although it is often served with cake at celebrations, the natural sweetness of Muscat stands on its own and makes it the perfect afternoon quaffer.
Muscat Food Pairings
For pairings, though, aim light: this is not meant to be sipped alongside richer dishes. Depending on the level of sweetness, it can stand up to quite a bit of spice and therefore is often paired with Asian fare or lighter Indian dishes. Light salads and grilled seafood work well, particularly for late afternoon noshing or an early dinner.
Wine Growing Regions for Muscat
Instead of specifying Muscat-producing regions, it’s probably more efficient to note the areas that don’t grow a Muscat! It is a very hearty grape and thrives throughout moderately warm climates, though some strains are admittedly more specific than others.
In Italy, it’s best known as Muscato d’Asti from Asti in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. In France, it produces light, dry wines in Alsace and dessert wines like Beaumes-de-Venise in the Rhône Valley. In Germany, it can be found in the Pfalz region under the Muskateller name and it produces leaner but still very aromatic wines. In Austria, it does well in the Wachau region, and in Spain, it thrives in Penedès.
Beyond Europe, Muscat de Frontignan thrives and produces the highly-valued Vin de Constance. In Australia, it does best in Rutherglen, and in California, it can be found in the Central Coast. It’s also growing in popularity in Mendoza, Argentina.
Are Muscat, Muscato, Moscato, Muscadet, Muscadelle, and Muscadine all the same thing?
So, back to our original question: What is Muscat and what is not? Muscat, Moscato, Muskateller are all the same but Muscadet is not (it’s a region in France), nor is Muscadine or Muscadelle (both of which are wine grapes but are not related to Muscat).
No matter what you want to call it, Muscat is a fun grape to explore because of its ability to grow just about anywhere and its ability to produce such vastly different wines. It’s definitely worth a deeper look!
Check out some of these Muscat and Muscat-based blends from around the world:
- Saracco Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy
- Vietti Cascinetta Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy
- Michele Chiardo Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy
- Müller-Catoir Muskateller Trocken, Pfalz, Germany
- Zind-Humbrecht Muscat, Alsace, France
- Domaine de Durban Beaumes-de-Venise, Rhône, France
- Gramona Gessamí Bianco, Penedès, Spain
- Quady Electra Moscato, California
- Eberle Muscat Canelli, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.
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