With its beautiful floral notes, Muscat is the perfect spring wine. This article provides all kinds of information about the Muscat grape and wine.
Muscat (rhymes with muskrat) is thought to be the oldest variety of grape in the world.
Muscat actually encompasses a family of grapes, which come in a wide range of hues and produces wines in a variety of styles, from dry and light to sweet and heavy. While most people associate Muscat with sweet dessert wine, there is a broad range of styles.
Muscat grapes are used to produce the sweet, sparkling Italian wine Asti Spumante. They are used to produce the sweet and strong Australian fortifieds. They’re used to create Pisco, a unique brandy popular in Chile and Peru, and Metaxa, a brandy liqueur from Greece. On the dry side is another French sparkling white called Clairette de Die that has a fruity musky palate. And then you’ll find a beautiful array of sweet but not cloyingly sweet wines that pair well with appetizers, salads and desserts.
The best known Muscat grape is Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, or Muscat Blanc for short. This is the grape that is used to produce Asti Spumante.
Most Muscats, including the dry ones, have a pronounced sweet floral aroma with musky, grape notes. The name Muscat comes from the grape’s characteristic muskiness. It’s the one wine (and grape) that you can legitimately say smells like grape. Saying that about other wines is likely to draw grunts.
Muscat is known as Moscato in Italy and Moscatel in Spain.
Muscat grapes are grown in temperate climates such as Australia, California, France, Greece, Italy and Spain. The grapes are harvested late, when they are very ripe, making them exceptionally sweet.
Besides the unbelievably yummy taste, a big plus for the Muscat grape is its high concentrations of antioxidant flavonoids, in quantities as high as many varieties of red grapes. This means that the possible beneficial effects of red wine consumption may also be present in Muscat wines.
The ideal serving temperature for Muscat is 45-50° F.
Muscat pairs nicely with a wide variety of foods, including an array of desserts, spicy Chinese, Indian and Thai dishes, fruit dishes featuring banana and melon, and sweet potato dishes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Muscat. What is your favorite style, and what are your favorite food pairing recommendations? Do you agree that Muscat is the perfect spring wine?