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. With demand rapidly increasing, Moscato is going nowhere and we are so here for it.
But, what happens when your tastebuds are ready to graduate on to the next best thing? Change can be scary, but it can also be wonderful. Turn to some of these similar sippers to slowly broaden your horizons while still satisfying that sweet tooth.
For Lovers of Classic Moscato
In almost any bottle of Moscato you try you’ll notice fresh hints of pear, citrus, green apple, orange blossom and juicy apricot. This wine is nothing if not consistent. When you’re seeking out other whites to expand your wine tasting repertoire, look for varietals with similar flavor components.
Enter: Gewürztraminer. A delicious white wine that’s easy to drink and hard to pronounce. Gewürztraminer (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: They taste just like Gewürztraminer. And if you don’t know what Gewürztraminer tastes like, see previous sentence.
Transitioning from Moscato to Riesling is almost no-fail. Almost. Rieslings are super aromatic, and they usually boast hints of lemon peel, ripe nectarine and similar tree fruit flavors. 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.
Pinot Grigio is another refreshing white that is well-loved amongst winos. 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 dip their tongues into 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!
Fans of Moscato d’Asti – The Wine’s Bubbly Twin Sister – Try These Alternatives
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 ripe peaches 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.
There’s Even a Red Wine Alternative
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, a blend of grape varieties from the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, makes a fruity red wine in the same semi-sparkling, frizzante style as Moscato d’Asti. Lambrusco bottles labeled with “semisecco,” “amabile” or “dolce” will be on the sweeter side, with flavors of cherry sauce, blueberries and rich currants. Due to its low tannins and bitterness, it appeases both sugar-thirsty Moscato drinkers and thrill-seeking red wine fanatics.
When the time has come for your palate to settle down, get serious and explore the wine world, don’t stress. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are wine palates. Seek out these Moscato-adjacent alternatives and test the waters to see which styles you enjoy. Like a rabble-rousing freshman turned decorated graduate, you may just find that a little structure and balance is exactly what your palate needed.