In the past few years Moscato has earned a solid spot in the top five white wines being consumed in the United States, becoming even more popular than sauvignon blanc and Riesling. And it looks like it is here to stay. Moscato is one of the fastest growing styles of wine, with sales up 70 percent in a given year.
Moscato is made from the Muscat family of white grapes. Italy’s Piedmont region is one of the homes to this wine style, Moscato d’Asti. If you’re thinking a frothy, fizzy, fairly neutral wine, you may be thinking of its cousin, Asti Spumante. Sadly, many confuse Moscato d’Asti with Asti Spumante, which is produced in the same region with the same grape, the moscato bianco.
In the past, when the trendy demand for Asti skyrocketed, the Piedmont area produced millions of bottles of this fizzy, easy-drinking style of wine, more than 80 million bottles a year. But as with most trends, the demand dropped off as the world moved onto another, more fashionable grape. Because of the enormous amount of production and an astounding export volume, Moscato d’Asti became lumped with the cheap, cheerful, sweet Asti, leading consumers to think they were one and the same.
The style of Moscato with which American consumers are enthralled is lightly sparkling, low alcohol (often in the 7 to 8 percent range) and beautifully fruity. So judge for yourself the force of the grape as a companion to food, refreshing on its own, or simply dessert.
- NV Mezzacorona Moscato, Italy (about $13 retail)
- NV Stella Rosa Moscato, Italy (about $14 retail)
- NV Ecco Domani Moscato, Italy (about $13 retail)
- 2011 Marchesi di Barolo Moscato d’Asti, Italy (about $20 retail)
- NV Marco Negri Moscato d’Asti, Italy (about $20 retail)