Muscat is not a grape but a whole family of closely related grapes. The most common of these include muscat blanc à petits grains (also called muscat canelli, muscat de Frontignan, and muskateller, among other things), muscat rose (or rouge) à petits grains (grown in Austria as goldmuskateller), muscat of Alexandria, muscat ottonel, black muscat, and orange muscat. Though it always retains a distinctive intense perfume — some tasters think it smells like geraniums, and indeed its skins contain a high concentration of an aromatic compound called geraniol, found in the leaves of that flower, and in many essential oils) — muscat is an extremely versatile grape, capable of producing lean, bone-dry wines; sparkling wines (like Asti spumante) and the low-alcohol, faintly sparkling moscatos that have lately become so popular in America; sweet and semi-sweet wines of some distinction (the moscatels of Portugal, made from yet another member of the muscat family, are justly famous, and there are excellent sweet muscats from Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon); fortified wine (one muscat variety is used in making sherry, and the alcohol-dosed moscatel of Málaga is highly underrated); and even brandy (like the pisco of Peru and Chile and the Greek brandy called Metaxa). One or more varieties of muscat are grown in many countries, from Australia, Austria, and Azerbaijan to Turkey, Ukraine, and of course the U.S.


Serve With

Foie gras, pâtés and terrines, duck, roast pork, and a wide range of Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Indonesian dishes (for dry muscats); foie gras, pâtés and terrines, and baklava and other nut-based desserts (for sweet muscats).