“Moscato Madness” is in the air. The sweet, flowery fizzy wine is all the rage among casual wine drinkers, according to MarketWatch. And we’re not just talking about Moscato d’Asti, the benchmark of this style from Piemonte in Italy, which I call the ultimate breakfast wine. As I wrote last December:
Wine inspires mystical description. It is bottled poetry, as Robert Louis Stevenson wrote; the key to inner truth, according to Pliny; and in Ben Franklin’s formulation, constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy. It is the liquid expression of the soil where it is grown and the bottled sunshine of the year in which it was harvested, a living time capsule that, once opened, is as fleeting as a lost opportunity. All of which explains why the world needs wine writers: If we ever really succeed in demystifying the stuff, we’ll write ourselves out of a job.
Now let me introduce the anti-wine, one that brooks no philosophical discourse or pretense and connotes neither the socioeconomic status nor level of enlightenment of those who drink it. A wine that speaks the simple language of fun, invoking not deep thoughts but only smiles. A wine that, if you must ask what food to pair with it, would inspire most people to answer, “Breakfast!”
Okay, I’m quoting myself. My bad. But it seems that the Moscato craze goes way beyond the Piemonte archetype. Cheap knockoffs from California and elsewhere are all the rage, apparently because of rap singers extolling moscato’s virtues for getting women into the mood. But are they any good? I found a Moscato rosé from Italy that the U.S. importer has trouble keeping in stock – and I liked it for its scent of rose petals and cherries. The American versions, however, tasted mostly of sulfur. I mean, most of them I tasted were dreck.
I did find one cheapie Moscato worth buying, and it surprised me: Yellow Tail. Moscato is the latest wine from this popular brand, and at $5 it delivers clean, ripe orchard and tropical fruit flavors (more mango than you’d expect from Moscato d’Asti) and good refreshing fizz.