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Moscato has been on fire as of late. The combination of modest alcohol, often between 5 percent and 10 percent, noticeable sweetness, and a bit of fizz has found an eager and thirsty audience. Of course, there is moscato and there is moscato; many a producer have jumped on the bandwagon hoping to ride it to fame and fortune, while others have been working with this often under appreciated variety for decades. The question of course would be: Is there any difference?
From a pricing standpoint, the range is quite modest. Ranging roughly from somewhat less than $10 to perhaps just more than $20, this is a narrow enough band to allow even casual consumers to check things out for themselves. After personal inspection of these wines, allow me to offer a few suggestions. The less expensive wines are often perfectly serviceable, gently sweet, and the fruit lacks the complexity or the lush creamy texture that distinguishes the finest moscatos. I would generally opt for paying a few dollars more to get the best, and the best continue to come from Italy, Asti in particular. It's simply a matter of terroir and experience one would think, so I can see other great moscatos emerging in the future, but most are not there yet.
Moscato is a perfect wine for the holiday seasons. It’s incredibly festive and works spectacularly well as an aperitif, or with desserts and cheese. Adding it to your table is like adding a glass full of the summer's finest sunshine to your dark winter day, so get out there and pick some up today. Sharing a bottle with your friends and family will be both greatly appreciated, and greatly rewarding as you finally find a wine to please everyone. Interestingly, I've included two oddball wines in this report: a still moscato as well as a sparkling malvasia, which resembles moscato but is a little less fruity and drier. The particular example I tried was delicious and a nice change of pace. It also comes in an attractive bottle, making it an ideal gift this holiday season.
Gregory Del Piaz, Snooth