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Celebrating World Moscato Day (May 9)

Celebrating World Moscato Day (May 9)

franco salzillo arriaga |

Wine enthusiasts celebrate National Moscato Day every May 9, and the vinous holiday is the perfect opportunity to talk more about the popular grape. Moscato is a unique wine grape that has managed to stay on top of the popularity charts for millennia. No, enjoying a glass of Moscato is nothing new, but it’s still trendy.

Muscat or Moscato, you might know this grape by different names. Still, we’re always talking about a unique varietal and the best example of the warm Mediterranean climate and how it affects the flavour and personality of wine. 

What is Moscato wine? Is Moscato sweet? Where did Moscato originate, and how do you drink Moscato? Here’s all you need to know about Moscato, a complete guide in honour of Moscato Day. Do you like Moscato? You’ll like it even more after reading all there is about it. 

All About National Moscato Day

We can thank Gallo Family Vineyards, one of the largest wine producers in California and the world, for creating the National Moscato to celebrate the noble grape and encourage people to enjoy the company’s bestselling wine. 2012 was the first year people celebrated this charming holiday, and ten years later, it’s more popular than ever. 

It is true, Moscato Day might not be more than a marketing stunt by one of the most influential wine brands in California, but it’s still a party, and we love parties. Moscato Day has allowed us to talk about this exciting grape. At the end of the day, there’s more than one producer making wines with Moscato, so choose your favourite!

Moscato wine is easy to drink and it’s crowd-pleasing delicious, but the grape is more than a sweet, easy to drink wine. In fact, Moscato is an ancient grape with deep European roots all around the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s what you need to know about this noble grape. 

What Is Moscato All About?

Moscato, AKA Muscat and Moscatel, is not a grape, but a family of cultivars that evolved around the Mediterranean basin. There are over 200 varieties in the Muscat family, and they’re some of the oldest wine grapes in the world, going back for thousands of years. 

It’s easy to see why Moscato has remained relevant for centuries; it grows where few other varieties can, on the warm Mediterranean shores and their sandy soils. Moscato grapes are pretty charming as well; they produce aromatic white wines with floral, peachy and lemony scents — it’s hard to argue these wines aren’t delicious. 

Moscato grapes are famous for another reason. This varietal accumulates extraordinary amounts of sugar, making the family of grapes ideal to produce sweet and semi-sweet wines. If you’ve ever tried Moscato wine, there’s a good chance you have sweet memories of it. Let’s not explore the most famous Moscato wines around the world — Moscato Day is a global celebration!

Moscato Around the World

Where did Moscato wine originate? It’s hard to say. Muscat grapes were already grown in Ancient Egypt, and the Persians also cultivated the sweet-scented variety. We’re talking about 3,000 years of winemaking history! The Ancient Greeks and Romans knew and cultivated Muscat grapes, too, and they remained popular throughout the Middle Ages towards modernity.

Today, you’ll find the most extensive vineyards planted with Muscat varietals in the USA; Italy, Australia, Spain, France, Chile and South Africa, but winemakers worldwide grow Moscato grapes with immense success. 

In Italy, Moscato is the source of the loveliest, sweet wines, specifically from the vineyards around Asti in Piedmont. Muscat grows in many French wine regions, from Northern Alsace to southern Languedoc-Roussillon. 

Muscat also grows in Portugal, and it’s the source of some of the country’s sweetest wines; you’ll find it in southern Spain as well. If the wine is sweet, there’s a good chance it’s made with Moscato grapes.

Moscato Wine Styles

There are four main wine styles made with Moscato: Sparkling Muscat, Still Muscat, Pink Moscato wine, Black Muscat and Sweet Dessert Muscat.

Sparkling Muscat. This speciality was developed in Piedmont, Italy. And it’s the most famous wine in Asti. Two appellations, Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante, are distinct versions of the wine. The first one is semi-sparkling or fizzy, and the second one is all-out bubbly. 

Still Muscat. Still Moscato is not as popular as the bubbly one, but it’s delightful. You’ll find versions of it in Alsace, Spain and even Austria. These are still white wines that, although sweet, are not as overwhelming as dessert wines. 

Pink Moscato. Although there are red and pink-skinned muscat varietals in the Moscato family, pink Muscat is often made by blending white Muscat wines with red wine made with another grape; this is a Californian speciality, and it’s usually inexpensive. 

Black Muscat. Black Muscat is a rarity, but it’s well worth seeking. Producers make this beauty with dark Moscato grapes. Muscat of Hamburg, known as the Black Muscat, is the most common dark Muscat. 

Sweet Dessert Muscat. The sweetest Moscato wine falls into the dessert wine category. These wines are often fortified, retaining their natural sweetness. French regions, including Rivesaltes, specialise in this type of wine. 

Portuguese winemakers also use the grape to make Moscatel de Setubal, and Spanish winemakers make sweet Sherry with Muscat. There are dozens of Muscat dessert wines around the Mediterranean, from Greece to Sicily. 

Moscato FAQs

Is Moscato sweet?

Although winemakers can ferment wines made with Moscato to dryness, they often make the most out of the grape’s considerable amounts of sugar to make sweet wines. Even dry wines made with the grape have a sweet nose. Moscato wine can be semi-sweet or overly sweet — not all wines have the same sweetness level.

Where did Moscato wine originate?

Moscato is a family of grapes going back at least 3,000 years to ancient Persia and Egypt. Moscato has been cultivated around the Mediterranean basin for millennia, and it’s now grown around the world. 

What does Moscato taste like?

Experts consider Moscato an aromatic white grape, as it’s much more fragrant than the average. Moscato wine always shows hints of Meyer lemon and mandarin oranges. Apple and pear aromas are less common but finding peach scents is easy. White flower and honeysuckle aromas are also quite pleasing and typical of wines made with Moscato. 

How do you drink Moscato?

If you’re drinking sparkling or semi-sparkling Moscato, drink it from a sparkling wine glass. Still, Moscato wine is best enjoyed from a white wine glass. Having said that, Moscato is an excellent ingredient for white sangria cocktails. Add fresh fruit or ice to your glass to turn the sweet wine into a sweet summer drink.

At what temperature should you serve Moscato?

All Moscato wine is best enjoyed cold, at fridge temperature around 4°C. If served too warm, Moscato wine can taste dull, overly alcoholic and not particularly fruity. 

How to store Moscato?

Store your bottles of Moscato in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight, vibration and heat sources. If you’re planning to open your Moscato in a few days, not more than a week or so, the refrigerator is a great place to store it. A wine cooling unit or cellar is your best alternative for long-term storage. The ideal storage temperature for all wines is 10-16°C. 

How long does Moscato last?

Once opened, a bottle of Moscato should still be enjoyable after 2-3 days if stored with an air-tight stopper in the fridge. Moscato’s sweetness makes it resilient to oxidation, so it will last a bit longer than dry wines. 

If unopened, a bottle of Moscato should show its best within the first three years after the vintage. Wines made with aromatic grapes are not long-lived, as their perfume dissipates over time. 

How to Pair Moscato with Food

Moscato is a wonderful sipping wine you can enjoy on its own, especially if it’s warm outside. Still, the sweet wine is versatile on the table. There are a few ways you can make the most out of your Moscato bottle through food. 

Moscato is delightful when paired with not overly sweet desserts like fruit tarts, meringues and custards. Fruit desserts are particularly compatible with the aromatic wine. Ensure the wine is always sweeter than your food to prevent it from tasting flabby.

On the savoury side, sweetness in wine can balance and counter spicy food. A glass of Moscato can nicely elevate curries, Asian stir-fries, and other spicy food. Thai food, noodles and spring rolls will shine when served with a glass of Moscato on the side. 

When it comes to food and wine pairings, experimentation is critical, so try your favourite foods with Moscato and find your own successful combinations. 

How to Celebrate International Moscato Day?

Call your friends and family over for an enjoyable time on the porch or backyard. Have a few bottles of Moscato in hand and put on some music because it’s Moscato Day!

If you need inspiration, browse our curated selection of Moscato wine only at World Wine.