Sweet & Sticky
The Muscat grape is one of the oldest grape varieties known to the wine world.
Instead of being just one grape, Muscat encompasses a family of grapes, found in a range of hues - from
white to brown to near black. The two best-known clones are Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains (Muscat blanc for short)
and Muscat of Alexandria. The Muscat blanc grape is the oldest variety and creates the most concentrated grape
flavors. Small in size, Muscat blanc is not always white and it can produce both dry and sweet wines. Muscat of
Alexandria is larger and often darker than the Muscat Blanc, and creates wines of intense sweetness.
Muscat Blanc is the Moscato used in
for Moscato d'Asti and Spumante, both light and fizzy wines.
It also creates the Muscat d'Alsace of
France, which is often made in the dry style. Muscat Blanc can
also be found in the deliciously sweet wines of Beaumes-de-Venise in the south of France. The Muscat of
Alexandria is responsible for the “stickies” of
as well as the Muscats of Portugal and South Africa.
California also has a hold on producing sweet dessert wines from Muscat.
Summing it up
Successful Sites: France, Italy, Australia, South Africa, Portugal, United States
Common Descriptors: grapey, musky, orange peel
Learn More About Italy
Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria
Home of the fashion capital of Milan, Lombardy is not quite Italy's capital of wine. It is, however, home to a few wines worth noting. Most vineyards are far north, far south or far east. First, in the south, the sparkling wine Franciacorta – this sparkling wine is made in the methode champagnoise and the better wineries produce wine that can hold it's own in a quality bubbly line up. Lugana, a pleasant, white wine made from Trebbiano, comes from Lombardy as well. Lean reds from the Nebbiolo grape are made further up in the Valtelliana region, near the Alps.
The region of Emilia-Romagna is better known for its food rather than wine. Most of the wine coming from this region is the red, slightly-fizzy Lambrusco. It's high in acid and best drunk young. The white coming out of the region is mostly Albana di Romagna. Made from the albana grape, it's typically dry and pleasant, although not found often.
Talk about being in the center of things… the land-locked region of Umbria is smack dab in the middle of the country. The most familiar white wine of the region is Orvieto, named for the medieval Etruscan town. It's a Trebbiano-based wine with good fruit flavors and high acid. Originally a sweet wine, most Orvietos are now dry. Red wine from Umbria includes Torgiano and Montefalco - Torgiano made from the grapes of Chianti, while Montefalco uses the native sagrantino grape, making big and bold reds.