In the last year, Moscato has exploded in popularity. The wines are refreshingly light, with ripe stone fruit characteristics, framed by an ever so slight kiss of sweetness. Sometimes they offer effervescence, sometimes not, but they always seem a perfect accompaniment to summer picnics. The history of Moscato is little known, but is one that is long and venerable.
It is commonly believed that Moscato, otherwise known as Muscat, Muscatel, etc., is one of the oldest grape varieties in the world. It is so old in fact that it predates written accounts of history. What can be proven is that the Muscat grape is the first documented variety in ancient grape growing regions like France’s Alsace, Italy’s Piedmont, and as early as the 1100s in Germany (winepros.org). The Muscat family of grapes is one of the most widely planted in the world, with over 20 different varieties planted to more than 20 different countries. Versions of this widely planted grape range from bone dry to intensely sweet, coming in versions of slightly bubbly (sometimes referred to as frizzante) or still. The wines also experience a broad range of alcoholic potency. The Muscat grape loves deep, damp soil types while being ironically susceptible to many vine diseases common to moist/wet growing conditions.
The recent attention garnered by Moscato is quite intriguing. In part, it is a testament to how the dynamics of popular trends continually affect our culture, even in the arena of drink. Music icons like Drake, Ab-Soul, Kanye West and Lil’ Kim are leading the charge in bringing new, young, Moscato drinkers to market. With their star-powered attention paid to the grape, hip-hop/dance clubs around the country have begun featuring the wines in their businesses and the result has been a huge surge in Moscato sales. The excitement of this is that there are now so many new wine drinkers enjoying a delightfully, pleasurable wine.
These huge sales have occurred in a market that was previously untouched. In 2011 alone, Moscato sales rose 70% from the previous year, and in 2010 Moscato sales rose almost 100% from 2009; gross sales rose from $100 million in 2009 to over $300 million in 2011 (beveragemedia.com). This kind of growth is almost unheard of! It’s simply astounding; the only other explosive growth of this caliber in recent years was the international acclaim for the Australian wine market, but it took 10 years for the Australian market to accomplish what Moscato has done in two years. With this kind of growth Moscato is on track to assume the spot of sixth most popular varietal in the U.S. within the year (2012). Wine drinkers; be prepared to see more and more of this sweet wine on shelves near you.
Do you personally like Moscato? If so, do you have any favorite producers?