family of grapes
of the species Vitis vinifera
is widely grown for wine
and table grapes
. Their color ranges from white to near black. Muscat almost always has a pronounced sweet floral aroma. Muscat grapes are grown around the world in Romania
, and other places. The breadth and number of varieties of muscat suggest that it is perhaps the oldest domesticated grape variety, and there are theories that most families within the Vitis vinifera
grape family are descended from the Muscat family.
Varieties of Muscat Grapes
- Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (also called Muscat Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Muscat Frontignan, Moscato Bianco, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat d'Alsace, Muskateller, Muscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel Rosé, Sárgamuskotály and Yellow Muscat). This grape is used for the wines: Asti, clairette de die, and muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. It is also used for some Tokaji wines.
- Moscato Giallo (or Goldmuskateller) and Moscato Rosa (or Rosenmuskateller) are thought to be closely related colored versions of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.
- Moscatel de Setúbal and Moscatel de Favaios are the most widely consumed varieties in Portugal, usually served in bars or as an aperitif at restaurants.
- Muscat of Alexandria (also called Moscatel, Moscatel Romano, Moscatel de Málaga, Gordo Blanco, Hanepoot, Lexia, Moscatel Gordo, and Zibibbo) This grape is used for sherry, moscatel or muscatel wines, Moscatel de Valencia, Muscatel Passito and other Muscatel liqueurs and also as a raisin and table grape.
- Muscat Ottonel (also called Moskately) Used for dessert wines in Romania, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, and dry wines in Alsace and Hungary.
- Muscat Hamburg (also called Black Muscat, Moscato di Amburgo) Used for some Eastern European wine but mainly for table grapes in Italy and Australia.
- Orange Muscat. Used for dessert wines in California and Australia. Not surprisingly, has something of an orange aroma.
- Muscat Crocant. Used for dessert wine of the same name (Muskat Krokan) in Serbia, where it grows only on Pearl Island (Biserno Ostrvo) on Tisza River.
- Moravian Muscat. The most widespread new wine cultivar in Czech Republic.
Table and sparkling wines
Muscat grapes are one of the major varieties grown for table wine
, and is a minor variety in California
. Muscat Ottonel is also successfully grown by a few vineyards in the Finger Lakes
region of New York State
. Currently it is produced into an Alsatian styled wine by McGregor Vineyard Winery on Keuka Lake.
In Italy, it is widely used in sweeter sparkling wines like Asti. Their 'grapey' quality makes many wines made from Muscat easy to identify. Moscato d'Asti is a lightly sparkling (frizzante) variety of Muscat, made from the Moscato Bianco (Muscato Canelli) grape of the Piedmont region of Italy. This region has a DOCG designation, and is also known for the production of Barbera d'Asti, Dolcetto d’Asti, and Asti Spumante. In Lithuania, it is also used for making a sparkling wine called Alita.
Dessert and fortified wines
Muscat grapes are used to make a variety of sweet dessert wines
in various parts of the world. Typically, these are fortified wines
, though some sweet late harvest
and noble rot
wines are also made from Muscat grapes.
Muscat is widely grown in Portugal and Spain, where the grape and the wines produced from it are known as Moscatel or Muscatel. Moscatels made in these countries are typically sweet and fortified. Among these wines is Moscatel de Setubal a sweet fortified wine from the Setúbal Peninsula in Portugal. Moscatel de Favaios is a Moscatel from the Douro Region. A Moscatel Madeira wine has also been produced on the island of Madeira, although Moscatel has become increasingly rare there over the last century.
In Spain, sweet fortified Moscatels are produced in a number of regions, notably Malaga and Jerez, and are sometimes made using the solera system. A variety of muscat is one of the varietals used in the production of sherry and according to Spanish law, it is one of only three grapes varietals allowed for this purpose.
France also produces a number of sweet fortified vins doux naturels from muscat grapes, such as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat de Mireval, and Muscat de St-Jean Minervois.
In Australia, sweet fortified muscat wines are produced in the Rutherglen region, with older wines made according to the solera system.
Brandies and liqueurs
Muscat wine is also the basis for Pisco
, a brandy
-like drink made in Peru
, and Metaxa
, a liqueur
made in Greece
Muscat grapes contain a number of distinct compounds that give muscat wines their distinct "muscaty" flavor.
Muscat grapes have been found to have 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.
Muscat Wines by Country
Brown Muscat has pride of place in north-east Victoria's Rutherglen district, and is generally regarded to be one of the world's greatest fortified wines. High quality Muscats are also produced in other mainland states. Riverina producer Miranda makes a raisined Muscat in passito
Muscat Ottonel is grown in the Black Sea
region and in the Danubian Plain
, while Muscatel is a well-known style in the Rose Valley
Known locally as Tamnjanika, sweet muscat wines have been popular in Serbia since the middle ages. They are grown mainly in the Zupa region of western Serbia, near Mount Kopaonik
and also in the Negotin
region in the Danubian basin.
Moravian Muscat is mostly grown in the region of South Moravia
Muscat is known as Muscadel or Hanepoot (Literally: Cockerel's Foot
, reputedly from the shape of the vine's leaves, although there is a theory that it is a corruption of hanekloot
which means: Cockerel's Testicle
from the shape of the grapes themselves), and can be either red or white. Like Australian Muscats, these can be high-quality fortified wines while Constantia is known for late-harvest Muscat of great standing.
Muscat wines produced in California include the Muscat de Beaulieu, a fortified wine from the Napa Valley; the Conundrum wine, which is a blend of Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay; and Vin de Glaciere, which is an artificial icewine made from late harvest Muscat grapes. In California's Central Valley the Muscat cross Black Muscat
is used to make dessert wine. Carlo Rossi, a popular brand of wine produced by Gallo Family Vineyards, produces its own Red Muscat Wine. In Oregon, Muscat Ottonel is used by Purple Cow Vineyards of Forest Grove, Oregon, which creates a dry, fruity, aromatic white wine similar to those found in Alsace.
Muscat is best known for producing
- Vins Doux Naturels (Natural Sweet Wines) in Frontignan, Lunel, Mireval, St Jean De Minervois, Rivesaltes, Beaumes de Venise and Cap Corse.
- Alsace Muscat is primarily dry, but can also be made in sweeter styles (Vendange Tardive and Selection de Grains Nobles)
Muscat (Moscato) grows throughout Italy in various forms. In dessert form it is either passito
or fortified, but it also appears in sparkling wines (Asti spumante
and Moscato d'Asti
) . One of the best is the Moscato di Trani, made on Adriatic in the town of the same name in Apulia.
Fortified Muscat (Moscatel) is produced in Andalusia
, the Valencian Community
, and the Canary Islands
Muscat (Moscatel) makes the much-revered Moscatel de Setubal and Moscatel de Favaios among others
Austria and Hungary
In both Austria and Hungary
, Muscat wines ranging from dry to very sweet are produced. Muscat is one of the varieties grown in the Tokaj
region of Hungary.
Romania has Muscat plantings for various dry and sweet styles.
Muscat dessert wines (moschato) are produced on Samos, Rhodes, Patras and Cephalonia. Dry Muscat table wine is produced on Lemnos
A number of towns is named Moschaton (Μοσχάτο) after the Greek name for the grapes.
Muscat grapes are produced in Ankara
and Central Anatolian Region.
Muscat dessert wines are also produced in Cyprus, analogous to those produced in Greece.
The Crimea region is home to dessert wines of reverence, with white, pink and black Muscat being given pride of place.
Fortified Muscat wines are produced in Tunisia and Morocco.
Muscat is used for dessert wines.