Muscat (grape)

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Grape (Vitis)
Black muscat grapes
Color of berry skinvaried
SpeciesVitis vinifera
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Grape (Vitis)
Black muscat grapes
Color of berry skinvaried
SpeciesVitis vinifera
Muscat Noir in Viala & Vermorel.
Muscat Rouge de Madère in Viala & Vermorel.

The Muscat variety of grapes of the species Vitis vinifera is widely grown for wine, raisins 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. 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 variety are descended from the Muscat variety.[1]

Among the most notable members of the Muscat family is Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains which is the main grape variety used in the production of the Italian sparkling wine Asti made in the Piedmont region. It is also used in the production of many of the French fortified wines known as vin doux naturels. In Australia, this is also the main grape used in the production of Liqueur Muscat from the Victorian wine region of Rutherglen. Young, unaged and unfortified examples of Muscat blanc tend to exhibit the characteristic Muscat "grapey" aroma as well as citrus, rose and peach notes. Fortified and aged examples (particularly those that have been barrel aged), tend to be very dark in color due to oxidation with aroma notes of coffee, fruit cake, raisins and toffee.[2]

Muscat of Alexandria is another Muscat variety commonly used in the production of French vin doux naturel but it also found in Spain where it is used to make many of the fortified Spanish Moscatels. Elsewhere it is used to make off-dry to sweet white wines, often labeled as Moscato in Australia, California and South Africa. In Alsace and parts of Central Europe, Muscat Ottonel is used to produce usually dry and highly perfumed wines.[2]


"Muscat July" white variety, grown in Medjimurje County wine subregion, northern Croatia

All together there are a couple of hundred Muscat varieties recorded, with many overlapping synonyms.

Muscat wines[edit]

Muscat grape wineyard in Mendoza, Argentina

In February 2012, it was reported that Moscato wine became the third most popular white wine consumed within the United States.[3]

Table and sparkling wines[edit]

Muscat grapes are one of the major varieties grown for table wine in Chile, and is a minor variety in California and Italy. In Italy, it is widely used in sweeter sparkling wines like Asti (wine). 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 (Muscat Canelli) grape of the Piedmont region of Italy. This region has a DOCG designation and produces Barbera d'Asti, Dolcetto d’Asti, and Asti. In Lithuania, it is also used for making a sparkling wine called Alita.

Dessert and fortified wines[edit]

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. Officially, Moscato is not classified as a dessert wine.

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, the main regions that provide Moscatel wines are Andalusia, the Valencian Community, Aragón, Navarre, Catalonia, and the Canary Islands. In Andalusia, Malaga and Jerez are the principal areas producing sweet fortified Moscatels and 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.

Muscat is successfully grown in California's east-central San Joaquin Valley, where orange muscat and black muscat varieties form the basis of premium dessert wines.

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.[4]

Brandies and liqueurs[edit]

Muscat wine is also the basis for Pisco, a brandy-like drink made in Peru and Chile, and Metaxa, a brandy-like drink made in Greece.

A blend of Muscatel wine and mead is called Muscadore.


Muscat grapes contain a number of compounds that give muscat wines their distinct 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.[5]

Muscat wines by country[edit]


The Armenian Muscat produced by the Armenia Wine Factory was recognized the best in the world at the 13th Muscat Du Monde International Wine Competition, which was held on July 4-5 2013 in the city of Frontignan-la-Peyrde in France.


Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge (also known locally as Brown Muscat) has pride of place in north-east Victoria's Rutherglen district.

High quality Muscats are also produced in other mainland states. Riverina producer Miranda makes a raisined Muscat in passito style.


In Austria Muscat wines ranging from dry to very sweet are produced. The grape is mostly grown in Southern Styria as "Muskateller".


In Azerbaijan Muscat wine is made from the locally grown grape. The oldest wine factory in Azerbaijan produces the brand "XAN Maral Göl Muscat Wine".


Italian immigrants have initially started to grow Muscat vines in the late 70s to produce a sparkling wine based on Moscato d'Asti. Muscat grapes (Moscatel) have showed some progress in the south region of Brazil, specially in the city of Garibaldi (located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul). Due to strong influence of Italian communities established in Brazil, Muscat wines have been frequently called "Espumante tipo Asti" (Asti Sparkling Wine). In 1986, due to a formal complaint from Asti producers (Martini), Brazilian producers have formally removed the word Asti from its sparkling labels. Today, Brazil produces more than 6 million liters of sparkling wine based on Muscat grapes, representing 22% of all wines being produced in Brazil with a growth of approximately 15% per year since 2001.[6]


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.


Muscat dessert wines are also produced in Cyprus, analogous to those produced in Greece. Also dessert wine from Black Muscat can be found in Cyprus


Croatia has Muscat plantings for dry, semidry and sweet styles. "muškat ruža porečki" (English: Muscat Rose) is produced in mid Istra, a peninsula on the north Adriatic coast in Croatia.

Czech Republic[edit]

Moravian Muscat is mostly grown in the region of South Moravia.


Muscat is best known for producing Vins Doux Naturels (Natural Sweet Wines) in Frontignan, Lunel, Mireval, Saint-Jean-de-Minervois, Rivesaltes, Beaumes de Venise and Cap Corse. Muscat d'Alsace, which is primarily dry but can also be made in sweeter styles (Vendange tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles)


Muscat dessert wines (moschato) are produced on Samos, Rhodes, Patras and Cephalonia. Dry Muscat table wine is produced on Lemnos. A number of towns are named Moschaton (Μοσχάτο) after the Greek name for the grapes.


In Hungary Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is grown mostly in Tokaj, Mátra and Balaton wine regions under the name of Muscat Lunel or Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat) in Hungarian. Sárgamuskotály wines can range from light, dry and refreshing to late harvest sweet or even botrytized dry or sweet wines. Botrytized Sárgamuskotály is often an ingredient in Tokaji sweet and "aszú" wines.


Muscat (Moscato) grows throughout Italy in various forms. In dessert form it is either passito or fortified. It is used in the sparkling wines Asti and Moscato d'Asti.


Muscat of Alexandria is grown in Okayama Prefecture for juices and sweet white wines.


Moscatel, from Ksara,[7] a late-harvested, fortified wine made from Muscat and Gewürztraminer. The nose is floral with citrus aromas, ripe melon and honey. It goes perfectly with foie gras, Roquefort and puddings.


Moldova wine producers offer various dry and sweet Muscat wines.

New Zealand[edit]

Muscat is used for dessert wines.

North Africa[edit]

Fortified Muscat wines are produced in Tunisia and Morocco.


Muscat (Moscatel) makes the much-revered Moscatel de Setubal and Moscatel de Favaios among others.


Romania has Muscat plantings for various dry and sweet styles. Among the most advertised varieties of Muscat produced in Romania are the wines from the regions Jidvei, Murfatlar and Dealu Mare.


Muscat wines are known locally as Tamjanika. They are grown mainly in the Župa region of central Serbia, near Mount Kopaonik and also in the Negotin region in the Danubian basin.


Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (Muškát žltý) variety is registered in Slovakia since 1941 and is authorized for cultivation in the Tokaj wine region.


In Slovenia muscat wines are called Rumeni Muškat where rumeni refers to the yellow colour of the wine (as English Yellow Muscat or Italian Muscat Giallo). It is grown in Haloze, Kozjak and other parts of the Drava valley, lower Sava Valley and Slovene Littoral. In the Littoral, grapes are sometimes picked later in the autumn to reach higher sugar levels. The wine is called Sladki Muškat where sladki (meaning sweet in English) refers to the sweet taste of the wine. Muscat Ottonel is grown in some parts of Drava Valley.


Fortified Muscat (Moscatel (Spanish)) is produced in Andalusia, the Valencian Community, Navarre, Aragón and Catalonia, and the Canary Islands.

It is also used to produce some dry white wines — sometimes blended with other grape varieties.

South Africa[edit]

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 grapes are produced in Ankara and Central Anatolian Region.


The Crimea region is home to dessert wines of reverence, with white, pink and black Muscat being given pride of place.

United States[edit]

Muscat and Muscat hybrids are grown across the United States, with California being a large producer of both fine wines and bulk wines.

Japanese muscat-flavored products[edit]

In Japans range from a muscat-flavored Calpis and sweets, to muscat-flavored iced tea sold at fast food restaurants.

The color usually associated with muscat-flavored products in Japan is green.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. Robinson Vines Grapes & Wines pg 183 Mitchell Beazley 1986 ISBN 1-85732-999-6
  2. ^ a b Wine & Spirits Education Trust "Wine and Spirits: Understanding Wine Quality" pgs 6-9, Second Revised Edition (2012), London, ISBN 9781905819157
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rutherglen Muscat ClassificationSolera system
  5. ^ "Researchers Develop White Wine with Cholesterol-Lowering Benefits". Science Daily. 2001-04-13. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  6. ^ Introduction to Muscat Wine history in Brazil
  7. ^ Mostacal, a sweet Fortified Wine from Ksara Lebanon

External links[edit]