Which Moscato Wines Are REALLY Worth Drinking?
Ah, Moscato. Perhaps no other beverage has created such divisive opinions within the community of wine aficionados as the product of the Muscat grape. Although the classic Moscato D’Anti originated in Italy, derivatives and clones of the Muscat grape are now grown from Oregon to New Zealand as demand for the fruity wine soars.
The Gallo Family created National Moscato Day in 2012 to celebrate the light, sparkling sipping wine that’s taken dinner tables, wine wholesalers and liquor stores by storm over recent years.
Like it or not, the Moscato craze appears here to stay!
If you’re a lover of Moscato wines – be they Orange Muscat, Muscat Blanc or Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains – then May 9th is bound to be one of your favorite days of spring. But celebrating May 9th (National Moscato Day) in style isn’t quite as simple as picking up a pedestrian bottle of the fizzy wine.
As Richard Jennings, author of over 45,000 tasting notes, once noted:
America’s in the midst of a much bigger wine phenomenon than the sudden upswing in Pinot Noir sales following the 2004 release of the movie Sideways. Sales of slightly sparkling sweet wines with underlying acidity made from the Muscat grape have exploded over the past two years among younger buyers, especially Millennials — the 21 to 30 age group.
Some of these wines, especially from Italy’s Asti region, are terrific. Others, produced by huge wine conglomerates on an industrial basis looking to cash in on the latest trend, are truly dreadful.
So this National Moscato Day, how can you tell which Muscat to enjoy in your dining room, sitting room or custom wine cellar?
Here’s a great, short list of fabulous Moscatos to enjoy May 9th (or any day)!
Best Moscatos to Enjoy on National Moscato Day
1. Borgo Maragliano La Caliera Moscato D’Asti, 2014 (Italy)
At between $12-16 a bottle at most retailers, La Caliera is our favorite Italian Moscato D’Asti when it comes to a combination of taste and price. While each edition from 2013-2016 is a real winner, our selection is the 2014 vintage, full of green grape, pear and yet not overly sweet. This Borgo Maragliano Moscato D’Asti is a great pair with most desserts (even chocolate!).
The winemaker describes La Caliera as carrying a “fragrance of candied fruit, acacia flowers and a typical musky but delicate bouquet”.
2. Foris Moscato, 2013 (Rogue Valley)
Foris is a great Oregon-based brand that has a knack for versatile, light Moscato. 2013 is our favorite (2012 and 2016 aren’t half-bad either) for its low alcohol content and intriguing citrus quality. Rated an 87 by Wine Enthusiast, we also love Foris for use in mimosas and other wine-mix beverages – primarily due to the low alcohol content and orange flavor we mentioned.
At a price tag of roughly $15-17 per bottle, this is an affordable, enjoyable Moscato.
3. Stemmari Moscato, 2013 (Terre Siciliane)
This beautiful pale yellow Moscato sits neatly at 8.5% ABV and, unlike many Moscatos, serves exceptionally well as an aperitif rather than a dessert wine. Like its Foris counterpart, the 2013 vintage is exceptional, garnering a rating of 90 at the Ultimate Wine Challenge. (The 2012 is also excellent, receiving a score of 86 from Wine Enthusiast.)
Sweeter than some of its counterparts, you’ll also find the price tag a bit sweeter as well – retail average for this bottle is just about $10. If you feel like venturing out of the Asti region and into Sicily, you’ll be highly satisfied with this effort from Stemmari.