One of the fastest-growing wines in America are muscat wines. They come in two formats. The first is a high-alcohol fortified wine . It’s sweet, cheap, and not one of my favorites. The second are the more elegant low alcohol ones, made with a slight spritzy-ness to it. They’re made by producers who care about the final product using big quality juicy muscat grapes . In 2011, their sales in the U.S. grew 90 percent while the wine market overall grew about 4.5 percent. Yup…that’s how good these new lighter alcohol, quality muscats can be.
Serve all muscats cold. Sparkling, slightly sweet and low in alcohol, it’s the perfect drink for everday sipping in the Jacuzzi or on the patio. It appeals to a wide range of tastes, and is especially good with Asian food. I recommend Flore de Moscatto 2010, produced and bottled by Salt of the Earth out of Madera, California. At about $8.99 or less with a reasonable 7.5% alcohol, this is an outstanding wine.
Andy Quady is the idea man behind these wines. Many of you will know him from his 40 years of innovative wines at Quady Winery. According to Randy, “ Salt of the Earth comes from a hot and sultry valley where the grapevines grow lush and the fruit hangs heavy with sugar: California’s Central Valley. Its neighbors are almonds, peaches, cotton and tomatoes. Out of the dust, dirt and sweat is born a straightforward, no-nonsense sensibility. Our Moscato reflects that valley. It is made to satisfy the need for simplicity in a beverage.”
The Flore de Moscatto 2010 is Springtime in a glass. According to the producers this wine, “Is made at summer’s end by crushing succulent, freshly harvested muscat grapes. The juices are slightly fermented in steel tanks and quickly chilled to retain their delectable sugar and natural spritz. Made solely with pure ripe orange muscat and muscat canelli grapes.” You can expect notes some fat tropical and vanilla notes with a lovely touch of bright mineral oil. Ripe pineapple and guava on the nose transports you to a tropical island. As with most muscats, there is plenty of sugar, but somehow it’s not cloying in this wine, but rather finishes clean without coating your entire mouth. I think we can thank the sassy acids for offsetting the sweetness on the finish.
This slightly spritzy wine goes well with a variety of foods like Maple Glazed Ham, Souvlaki, a dessert that has almonds, coconut cream pie, salmon and crab. I personally love it with Chef Scott Drewno’s Chile-Pork Wontons and Chef Chris Newsome’s Ginger-Lime Shrimp Salad .