Weekly wine defined: Moscato

Brynn writes:

Guess what’s all the rage these days? Moscato.

Who could have imagined this slightly sweet, sparkling wine that was once only known to Italian wine lovers (Moscato d’Asti anyone?) — or those who love a cheap, sweet wine — would hit the big time in America?

Even more surprising? How the wine gained its popularity.

Would you believe we can thank rap stars like Toronto-born Drake, Kim Kardashian’s baby daddy Kayne West, St. Louis-born Nelly, Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy with the recent surge in moscato sales? (Don’t worry if you don’t know any of these names, I’ll admit I even had to look up a couple of them and I like to think I’m still young and hip).

As this February 2012 New York Magazine piece explains, much like the impact the movie Sideways had on pinot noir (and the demise of merlot) the myraid mentions of moscato by rappers is causing the recent surge in sales. (Here’s an excerpt of the 2009 Drake song many claim started the craze: “It’s a celebration clap clap bravo / Lobster and shrimp and a glass of moscato / For the girl who’s a student and the friend who’s a model…”)

So what exactly is moscato? Well as mentioned before, it’s a sweet, slightly sparkling, white wine that has floral notes and is usually quite affordable. It’s made from the Muscat grape, which can range in color from green to almost black. The brand most often seen “in da club” perched atop a pile of ice next to the music industry’s whose who these days is Martini & Rossi Moscato d’Asti (which typically retails for around $10 — considerably cheaper than the Cristal champagne bottles that used to fill those buckets). The wine ranges from sweet to dry.

It’s a great wine for a hot summer day, especially if you pair it with fresh fruits like strawberries. Another nice thing about it? The alcohol content is often around 5 percent, considerably lower than other whites like say Sauvignon Blanc, which is in the 12 percent range.