Cabernet Blanc, Syrah, Pinot Grigio, Tempranillo, Malbec, Muscat — wait, what’s a muskrat doing in a lineup of wines?
All kidding aside, Muscat wine may not be the most recognized varietal in your neighborhood, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a spot in your rotation. You’ve probably heard of Moscato or Moscatel — yes, the same grapes — but withhold your judgment long enough to learn what there is to appreciate about Muscat wine.
A Brief Overview of Muscat Wine’s History
Like many a grape varietal, Muscat wine’s humble story begins in France — the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains grape family, to be precise. These small grapes have grown in the Southern Rhone Valley of France and gained popularity among wine drinkers in the 1990s. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains grapes are related to those used to produce wines including Moscato d’Asti in Italy, Grüner Veltliner in Austria, Rutherglen Moscato in Australia, and Vin de Constance from South Africa.
Some believe Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains grape vines were brought by the Romans from Italy to France 2,000 years ago, or possibly by the Greeks from their vineyards near the Mediterranean Sea. The small grapes are light brown, pink, or red, and are sometimes used to make raisins. Unlike many other sweet wine grapes that are picked late in the harvest, Muscat grapes are often picked first in the season. “Muscat wine is the one that sincerely tastes like the grape,” you might overhear some people say at wine tastings or dinner parties.