aka Muscat de Frontignan (Fr.) and Moscato di Canelli (It.)
Muscat was probably one of the first grape varieties to be identified and cultivated. Most likely originating in Greece, the Muscat grape was brought to France by the Romans before the 1300s. There it thrived and gained much popularity around the Languedoc region. It is widely thought that the Muscat grape may be the most ancient known variety. This claim is based on the breadth and number of varieties of Muscat around today.
Muscat grapes are grown around the world in Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Moldova, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, and Turkey.
Muscat was first introduced to California in the 1850s. It was imported as a table grape from New England nurseries. California’s production of Muscat was slow at first but since 1981, the amount of acreage allotted for the grape has been about 6,000 acres.
The full name is Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Muscat is widely grown for wine, raisins and table grapes. The berries are quite small and round, and not always white. The full spectrum of grape colors includes pale green, pale yellow, golden, pink, red, brown, and even black berries. Surprisingly, from year to year, some vines have been known to produce fruit that is different in color.
While there have been a couple hundred Muscat varieties recorded, many with overlapping synonyms, the Muscat family has two main branches One branch is based on Muscat Blanc and the other branch is based on Muscat Alexandria. The most desirable of the two grapes for wine, due to its intense aromas, is the Muscat Blanc; known as Muscat de Frontignan in France and Moscato di Canelli in Italy. Each Muscat grape produced offers subtle variations. However, all wines produced from Muscat grapes will have a distinct, intense, aromatic, rosy-sweet, and easily-recognized scent.
Overall, Muscat grapes pose a difficult challenge to vineyards. The Muscat vine is not vigorous in most soil types, especially sandy mixtures. It seems to prefer damp soil that reaches down far below the surface. Muscat is also prone to fall victim, easily, to any of several vine diseases. The grape has a tendency to bud early and can also suffer from spring frosts. Yet, despite these negative characteristics, it is a widely planted grape and has many styles of wine based from it.
Partnering With Food
Rule #1: Matching the alcohol level and body of the wine to the heaviness of the food should make for a proper pairing every time.
Muscat wine styles can vary from light and bone dry, to low-alcohol sparkling versions, to very sweet, thick, and alcoholic potions. (Remember Rule #1.)
Below are a list of foods and dishes that should pair well with different types of Muscat:
- Chicken Colombo
- Foie Gras
- Blue Cheese
- Creme Brulee
- Mango Tart
- Coffee Mousse
- Bananas Foster
- Frozen Melon
- Nougat Ice Cream
- Exoctic Fruit Salad
Restaurants With These Types of Dishes
To view restaurants that serve appetizers, entrees and other dishes that partner well with this grape type, click here….