By Justin Taylor

The world of wine grape varietals is very extensive as has been previously discussed in the Wine and Vine.  Among some of the standards most of us are familiar with are Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Pinot Noir for example.  But there is one varietal that has quite a unique family tree which often gets confused with the native Muscadine of North America.  If you feel that Muscat is a wine you have never tried, well surprise because it is a very popular wine that goes under the Italian term Moscato more often than not!

Largely spread around the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians and Greeks, this varietal is known around the world for the exotic aromas that are contained in the raw fruit.  This family of grapes is one of few that actually have a bright aromatic profile that can be picked up just by walking through rows of these in the vineyard.  Thankfully the citrus, stone fruit, and tropical aromas carry through to the final wine.  If you really want to geek out, terpenes, the compound in grapes that conveys aroma, has been measured to be highest in the Muscat family of grapes.

The plantings of this grape have gone far and wide, and today you can find traditional examples of these wines from Alsace, France to the D’Asti of Piedmont, Italy.  When you have established the base quality, adventure out to the “stickies” of Australia to the Muscats from California or North Carolina.  Keep an open mind as these wines will go under different nomenclature, such as Moscato, Muscat á Petits Grains, Orange Muscat, and Muscat Canelli.  In addition, there will be varying levels of sweetness, so bring something to either start or finish the meal at you next dinner party.

This full article reflects the answer to last issue’s trivia question.  The trivia question for the next wine and vine:  Which modern day construction material, think foundations, is finding its way into the wine industry?


Justin Taylor is Winemaker at Parker-Binns Vineyard and Winery, Mill Spring, NC.