Riesling Is Sweet… But Moscato Is Sweeter

MoscatoMoscato has taken America by storm, replacing Champagne as the fizzy party drink of choice among young adults — and many not-so-young adults as well.

The Moscato movement has been fueled, in part, by a number of songs that mention the wine in their lyrics. The Drinks Business came up with this “Top 10” list of such songs:

  1. Lighters Up — Lil’ Kim
  2. Make Her Feel Good (Remix) — Teairra Mari featuring Jay-Z and Kanye West
  3. Do It Now — Drake
  4. No Hands — Waka Flocka Flame featuring Wale and Roscoe Dash
  5. Moscato — Ab-Soul featuring Kendrick Lamar
  6. Moscato — Roscoe Dash
  7. Oh My Lyrics — DJ Drama
  8. Gentlemen’s Song — Sinful D
  9. Gone Insane — Ab-Soul
  10. Moscato Love — Bigg Robb

(You can find the lyrics to those songs here. Parental warning: Many of the lyrics are explicit.)

For generations, Riesling was more or less the go-to variety when someone wanted a glass of sweet wine. That changed when White Zinfandel came along, and that subsequently opened the door to other types of sweet wine being considered by consumers. Moscato, after centuries as a supporting player, was ready to step up to the big-time.

Although Riesling is crafted at a variety of sweetness levels, particularly in Germany, the style most often served in America would be described as “off-dry” or “semi-sweet.” That is, the fermentation process is halted before all of the sugars from the grape juice are burned away.

But German wine labels can be challenging to decipher, and understanding what the sugar level is in a specific bottle can be daunting. Combine that with Riesling’s tendency to show some petrol notes when aged over an extended period of time, and it was easy for Moscato to overtake Riesling among those with a sweet tooth.

Muscat grapes have a high level of sugar and also low acid, both of which contribute to Moscato’s sweet impression in the mouth.

But the sweet fun begins even before you take a sip, if you’re willing to swirl the wine a bit and then stick your nose in the glass. Do that, and you’ll be rewarded with delicate floral notes of rose petals and elderflowers, reminiscent of a late spring morning.

The flavors of Moscato are all about fruit, and that’s another reason its sweetness is so pronounced. Among the flavors you’re likely to encounter are peach, apricot, orange and other citrus notes.

Winemakers have a choice when making Riesling, and that’s why the styles range from bone dry to extremely sweet, with many sweetness levels in between. With Moscato, the style choice to be made is sparkling or still, because sweetness is not a consideration. All Moscato wines are sweet, and that means lovers of sweet wine can select a glass or bottle of Moscato with confidence.


Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Wine in the Glass
Members-only Wine sampler specials delivered straight to your inbox via our Cyber Circle newsletter.

%d bloggers like this: