If you’ve ever visited Italy (or, more likely, have been a college-aged female at some point in your life) you’ve tried Moscato. It’s that sugary sweet, sometimes fizzy, easy sipping wine we all love to hate, hate to love, or openly and proudly adore. But what's a wine lover to do when they want to get out of their comfort zone and try some alternatives to their beloved Moscato? Easy: turn to some of these six similar sippers to slowly broaden your horizons while still satisfying that sweet tooth.
For Lovers of Classic Moscato
While the Muscat grape is grown all over in all kinds of styles, most of the Moscato you'll find in stores is sweet with light fruit and floral notes. Think hints of pear, citrus, green apple, orange blossom or juicy apricot. When you’re seeking out other whites to expand your wine tasting repertoire, look for varietals with similar flavor components:
A delicious white wine that’s easy to drink and hard to pronounce. Gewürztraminer (click to hear it pronounced: Gah-vurtz-tra-meener) is a sweet wine, famously known for its boldly, fruity aromas. You’ll notice hints of citrus fruits, ripe pear and lychee when sipping on this varietal. For those of you who don’t snack on lychees on the daily, the taste is pretty recognizable and easy to distinguish: it's commonly described as tasting like a "grape with a hint of rose".
Transitioning from Moscato to Riesling is almost no-fail. Almost. Rieslings are super aromatic, and their flavors range from greener citrus & orchard notes (apple, lime, pear) to the much riper tropical and stone fruits, like peaches and mangoes. They range in sweetness levels, but the Rieslings hailing from Germany or California tend to be on par with the sweetness levels of Moscato. But beware! Rieslings with the words “trocken” or “dry” on their label will be, you guessed it, dry. If you’re trying to stick with sweet, you’ll also want to steer clear of those produced in the Alsace region of France, the Finger Lakes region of New York and the wine regions of Washington State; these styles are all made to be on the drier side.
3. Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is another refreshing white that is well-loved amongst wine lovers. This vino originated in Italy, so its history and heritage run parallel to Moscato’s. Like Moscato, Pinot Grigio is unoaked and stored in stainless steel vats. This produces a bright and crisp wine, free of the flavors you may find in a contrastingly full-bodied, oaky Chardonnay. For those ready to explore drier styles of wine, Pinot Grigio is the perfect bridge. While you’ll still notice the fresh flavors of citrus, granny smith apple and stone fruits that you love in Moscato, you’ll likely learn to love its subtle almond flavors and bright acidity even more! To try a nice, refreshing Pinot Grigio for yourself, we recommend the Corsa All'oro from Northern Italy. With flavors of ripe peach balanced by a touch of minerality, it's perfect for timid Moscato lovers looking to branch out!
Moscato Alternatives for Fans of Moscato d’Asti - The Wine’s Bubbly Twin Sister
Wines labeled Moscato d'Asti are made in a style known as frizzante, which means they’re slightly fizzy on top of their classic Moscato sweetness. When searching for similarly sparkly bottles, take note of the wine’s region or labeled sweetness level.
Prosecco is another sparkling white wine native to the vineyards of Italy. Like Moscato d’Asti, it possesses aromatic flavors, with apple and melon leading on the palate. For those ready to take a small step out of that sweet, sweet comfort zone, Brut Prosecco is the way to go. While “brut” generally signifies that a wine is on the drier side (“doux” or “demi-sec” indicate sweet wines), Prosecco made in this style tends to taste slightly sweeter than other sparkling varietals under that label.
For those who are ready to take a walk on the sparkling wine wild side, look no further than Cava. This Spanish sparkler is a blend of three primary grapes: Viura, Xarel·lo, and Paralleda. Together, these grapes create a wine that is less sweet than Prosecco and less nutty than Champagne. The bubbly combination is incredibly refreshing and equally affordable compared to Moscato d’Asti. To make things even more loco, Cava can be produced in the style of rosé by adding Garnacha or Monastrell grapes to the blend. Sparking and pink? Sign. Us. Up.
Moscato Alternatives for Red Wine Lovers
Branching out from sweet white wines to reds can be a bold and daring move. If the transition is not handled properly, it can ruin a potential red-wine lover’s entire view on the variety. The wine gods must’ve sensed Moscato lovers’ fears, as they created a red wine that is so smooth, sweet and delicious that it makes even the most devoted of Moscato drinkers consider switching to reds.
Lambrusco is a blend of grape varieties from the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, which makes a fruity red wine in the same semi-sparkling, frizzante style as Moscato d’Asti. Bottles labeled with “semisecco,” “amabile” or “dolce” will be on the sweeter side, with flavors of cherry sauce, blueberries and rich currants. Because of its low tannins and prominent fruit flavors, it appeases both sugar-thirsty Moscato drinkers and thrill-seeking red wine fanatics.
Enjoy Your Wine Journey!
When the time has come for your palate to settle down, get serious and explore the wine world, don’t stress. Here at Bright Cellars, we want to make it easier for you to explore the wine world and discover your favorite moscato alternatives.