Nowadays bottom-line news is the startling success of sweet wines. The credit goes to the pop culture which turned the gears in reverse and devised this frivolous fad. Take the recent shift towards Muscat Wines from Italy with a striking story. The craving for Moscato wines is sharply growing in the U.S, with a whopping 78% sales increase between 2010-2011 and still having consistent growth with a 65% increase over last year. This has prompted winegrowers to focus on the rather old but seemingly new variety of Muscat wines which has added to the mania. To get to the bottom of this scramble, let’s look at this special wine.
What’s Awesome About Muscat Grapes?
I’ll tell you what comes to my mind when I hear the word “Moscato”. A sweet bubbly white beverage that leaves an explosion of flavors in my mouth. Yup, good old Muscat, always timeless! On a serious note though, it derived from a family of Muscat grapes. It has several varieties grown not only throughout Italy but also across the world. The grapes can be made into a sparkling, still, sweet, and fortified wines.
Of this family of grapes, Moscato Bianco also called Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat Blanc or Muscat Canelli, is the elite category and has been cultivated for over 800 years. This variety is what brought you the recent Moscato wave as the base of Moscato d’Asti, the style emulated by most commercial brands. Moscato D’ Asti is the highest quality Moscato you can get and comes from the prestigious area in Italy named Asti. So, Moscato and Muscat can come from anywhere but the best sparkling Moscato is DOCG Moscato D Asti from Piedmont Italy.
Millennials Airing “Moscato Mania”
This wondrous, sweet Moscato-style wine was first introduced by E. & J. Gallo in 2008, under their Barefoot Cellars label. Consequently, it gained popularity with the younger generation of wine drinkers, particularly the Millennial generation. This generation(18-29), being accustomed to sweetened vitamin water, flavored coffee, and carbonated soft beverages doesn’t surprise anyone if they prefer lighter, semi-sparkling sweet wines that are much kinder to their delicate tongue.
Another important aspect that has really boost the wine’s popularity is hip hop culture that seems to praise this noble wine. It is heard in almost every urban rap song and many youths seem to go with the flow – unintended – and are embracing this wine. Two perfect examples are when Lil’ Kim rapped “Still over in Brazil/Sipping Moscato,” or when Kendrick Lamar rapped “We need a bottle of Moscatoooo/Puts me in the moment for your lovin”. Those influenced by these songs praise Moscato for its low price, low alcohol content, and eventually making it a part of any special occasion.
High Demand that Leads to Increasing Sales
These are some of the reasons that led to 124% sales increase of the Gallo Family Vineyards. Large wineries are scrambling to make a killing out of this Moscato frenzy, others ordering bulk wine shipments from Italy and Spain to dampen the overwhelming demand. According to Nielsen, which tracks sales of food and drinks in the U.S, Moscato sales increased tremendously by 200% in 2009 and 2011.
Although sales of Moscato d’Asti increased by about 50% at that time, the biggest market share went to Gallo, whose Barefoot Cellars Moscato came about in 2008. Above all, Barefoot and Gallo Family are enjoying the biggest market share in the United States of 43%, while Trincher’s Sutter Home Brand comes in second with 27%.
This wine appeals more to different demographics due to its cheapness, sweet sparkling nature with an apt acidity level. Moscato doesn’t just pair well with the spicy food but even more perfect as an aperitif or an accompaniment with desserts.
Moscato Bottles to Try!
Therefore, just like any wine enthusiast, you need to decide on what bottle of best Moscato to try this year. If you are clueless, let me give you a few suggestions.
1. MICHELE CHIARLO NIVOLE, MOSCATO D’ASTI DOCG, ITALY
Founded in 1956, this special bottle of Moscato was a creation of Michele Chiarlo. Nivole is made with grapes that are cultivated on the slopes of Canelli. This wine is fermented to a lightly sparkling, with 5% ABV and you’ll get it at $24.
2. COPPO MONCALVINA, MOSCATO D’ASTI DOCG, ITALY
Coppo is located on the Canelli slopes of Piedmont and is popular due to its 18th-century wine cellars. The cellars penetrate across the hillside and are known as Unesco World Heritage site. Have you asked yourself who pioneered manufacturing wine using red grape Barbera? Well, Coppo is behind it. Moscato d’Asti is one of its popular bottles that is priced at $16.
This semi-sweet sparkling wine is made with Moscato grapes from Piedmont, Italy. With light essence of apricot and pear, it balances the appropriate proportion of tart and sweetness making it a perfect trendy drink suiting to numerous occasions. With 5% ABV, this white wine also exhibits peach and honey flavors and you can serve it chilled with cheese, fresh fruits, desserts or even spicy delicacies. A bottle goes for just $11.35.
This awesome sparkling wine has an approachable sweetness with 5.5% ABV. The most noteworthy, Moscato Imperiale is from Northwestern Italy. It is blended with different flavors of peach and apricot with concentrated aromas of pear and wildflowers. For the reason that its alcohol content is moderate, this makes its food pairing perfectly with fresh fruit, light salads, cheese, or fish. It also pairs well with desserts like Vanilla bean ice cream apricot, apple, tarts, or peach cobbler. A bottle goes for $14.20
5. LA SPINETTA BRICCO QUAGLIA, MOSCATO D’ASTI DOCG, ITALY
Rather a close relative of premium Barolo and Barbaresco, La Spinetta shouldn’t be underestimated. You’ll get all its sweetness from the soil of a single 50-acre vineyard, producing an average of 110,000 bottles annually, each going for $18.
6. VIETTI CASCINETTA, MOSCATO D’ASTI DOCG, ITALY
Selected from small vineyards located in Castiglione Tinella, grapes from Moscato d’Asti are perhaps the best in the entire DOCG region. Likewise La Spinetta, Vietti is popular for top-tier Barolo and Barbera wines. You will get a bottle at an average price $16.
7. BENI DI BATASIOLO MOSCATO D’ASTI BOSC DLA REI 2013, ITALY
Another one of my favorite Moscato bottles and I love its authenticity. It has a delicate flower-scented aroma with exotic tropical fruit essence. This great wine has a palette profile packed with D’Anjou pear and red apple hints. Its fizzy-fruity theme makes it perfect before, during, and after meals. You’ll part with $16 for a bottle.
8. SARACCO MOSCATO D’ASTI 2013 , ITALY
This is easy to find, delicious, and authentic Piedmont’s finest drink. Saracco brings together a balanced acidity and tantalizing floral aromas. This Moscato wine pairs well with fresh seasonal fruit due to lightweight nature and semi-sweet palette appeal. You can spice it up with the heat of Asian fare or Cajun cuisine, to see how it turns out. A bottle costs $14.
Moscato is a great wine style that is quite enjoyable as table or occasional drink due to its sweetness. You can sample all types of Moscato wine at Stella Rosa Wines or subscribe to join the Sweet Wine Club.