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Some grapes of vitis vinifera
The muscat family 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 in Cyprusmarker, Hungarymarker, Romaniamarker, Moldovamarker, Bulgariamarker, Serbiamarker, Israelmarker, Francemarker, Germanymarker, Portugalmarker, Greecemarker, Spainmarker, Australia, Californiamarker, Oregonmarker, Canadamarker, Italymarker, Albaniamarker, Turkeymarker, Sloveniamarker, and other places. 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 family are descended from the Muscat family. Indeed, scientists from the University of Pennsylvaniamarker have analyzed pots from King Midas's burial mound and determined that Muscat grapes were a key component of the alcoholic beverage served at his funeral feast.

Varieties of Muscat Grapes

  • Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (also called Muscat Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Muscat Frontignan, Moscato Bianco, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat d'Alsace, Muskateller, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel Rosé, Sárgamuskotály and Yellow Muscat). This grape is used for the wines: Asti, clairette de die, and muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. It is also used for some Tokaji wines.
  • Muscat Rose à Petit Grains, Muscat Rouge à Petit Grains, Moscato Giallo (or Goldmuskateller), Moscato Rosa (or Rosenmuskateller) are thought to be closely related colored versions of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.
  • Moscatel de Setúbalmarker and Moscatel de Favaios are the most widely consumed varieties in Portugal, usually served in bars or as an aperitif at restaurants.
  • Muscat of Alexandria (also called Moscatel, Moscatel Romano, Moscatel de Málaga, Muscat Gordo Blanco, Hanepoot, Lexia, Moscatel, Gordo, and Zibibbo) This grape is used for sherry, moscatel or muscatel wines, Moscatel de Valencia, Muscatel Passito and other Muscatel liqueurs and also as a raisin and table grape.
  • Muscat Ottonel (also called Moskately) Used for dessert wines in Romaniamarker, Bulgariamarker, Austriamarker, Sloveniamarker and Croatiamarker, and dry wines in Alsacemarker and Hungarymarker.
  • Black Muscat (also called Muscat Hamburg, Moscato di Amburgo) Used for some Eastern European wine but mainly for table grapes in Italy and Australia. A dessert wine made from this grape is produced in California.
  • Orange Muscat. Used for dessert wines in California and Australia. Not surprisingly, has something of an orange aroma.
  • Muscat Crocant. Used for dessert wine of the same name (Muskat Krokan) in Serbiamarker, where it grows only on Pearl Island (Biserno Ostrvo) on Tisza River.
  • Moravian Muscat. The most widespread new wine cultivar in Czech Republicmarker.

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

Muscat wines

Table and sparkling wines

Muscat grapes are one of the major varieties grown for table wine in Chilemarker, and is a minor variety in Californiamarker and Italymarker. Muscat Ottonel is also successfully grown by a few vineyards in the Finger Lakesmarker region of New York Statemarker. Currently it is produced into an Alsatian styled wine by McGregor Vineyard Winery on Keuka Lake.

In Italy, it is widely used in sweeter sparkling wines like Astimarker. 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 (Muscato Canelli) grape of the Piedmont region of Italy. This region has a DOCG designation, and is also known for the production of Barbera d'Asti, Dolcetto d’Asti, and Asti Spumante. In Lithuaniamarker, it is also used for making a sparkling wine called Alita.

Dessert and fortified wines

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.

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 Setúbalmarker Peninsula in Portugalmarker. Moscatel de Favaios is a Moscatel from the Douromarker Region. A Moscatel Madeira wine has also been produced on the island of Madeiramarker, although Moscatel has become increasingly rare there over the last century.

In Spainmarker, sweet fortified Moscatels are produced in a number of regions, notably Malagamarker and Jerez, and are sometimes made 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 most 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 Rutherglenmarker region, with older wines made according to the solera system.

Brandies and liqueurs

Muscat wine is also the basis for Pisco, a brandy-like drink made in Perumarker and Chilemarker, and Metaxa, a brandy-like drink made in Greecemarker.

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.

Muscat Wines by Country


Brown Muscat has pride of place in north-east Victoria's Rutherglen district, and is generally regarded to be one of the world's greatest fortified wines. High quality Muscats are also produced in other mainland states. Riverina producer Miranda makes a raisined Muscat in passito style.

Austria and Hungary

In both Austria and Hungary, Muscat wines ranging from dry to very sweet are produced. Muscat is one of the varieties grown in the Tokaj region of Hungary.


Muscat Ottonel is grown in the Black Seamarker region and in the Danubian Plainmarker, while Muscatel is a well-known style in the Rose Valleymarker.


Muscat dessert wines are also produced in Cyprus, analogous to those produced in Greece.

Czech Republic

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


Muscat is best known for producing
  • Vins Doux Naturels (Natural Sweet Wines) in Frontignanmarker, Lunel, Mireval, St Jean De Minervois, Rivesaltes, Beaumes de Venise and Cap Corse.
  • Alsace Muscat is primarily dry, but can also be made in sweeter styles (Vendange Tardive and Selection de Grains Nobles)


Muscat dessert wines (moschato) are produced on Samos, Rhodes, Patras and Cephalonia. Dry Muscat table wine is produced on Lemnosmarker.

A number of towns are named Moschaton (Μοσχάτο) after the Greek name for the grapes.


Muscat (Moscato) grows throughout Italy in various forms. In dessert form it is either passito or fortified, but it also appears in sparkling wines (Asti spumante and Moscato d'Asti) . One of the best is the Moscato di Trani, made on Adriatic in the town of the same name in Apulia.

New Zealand

Muscat is used for dessert wines.

North Africa

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 well known varieties of Muscat produced in Romania are the wines from the regions Jidvei, Murfatlar and Dealu Mare.


Moldova wine producers offer various dry and sweet Muscat wines.


Known locally as Tamnjanika, sweet muscat wines have been popular in Serbia since the middle ages. They are grown mainly in the Zupa region of western Serbia, near Mount Kopaonikmarker and also in the Negotinmarker region in the Danubian basin.


Fortified Muscat (Moscatel (Spanish) or Moscatell (Catalan)) is produced in Andalusiamarker, the Valencian Communitymarker, Navarremarker, Cataloniamarker, and the Canary Islandsmarker.

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

South Africa

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 Ankaramarker 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

There are muscat dessert wines from the black muscat and orange muscat varietals that are produced by one premium winery in California's Stanislaus County, an area better known for the production of inexpensive bulk wine. Muscat wines are also produced in California include the Muscat de Beaulieu, a fortified wine from the Napa Valley; the Conundrum wine, which is a blend of Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay; and Vin de Glaciere, which is an artificial icewine made from late harvest Muscat grapes. Carlo Rossi, a popular brand of wine produced by Gallo Family Vineyards, produces its own Red Muscat Wine. In Oregon, Muscat Ottonel is used by Purple Cow Vineyards of Forest Grove, Oregon, which creates a dry, fruity, aromatic white wine similar to those found in Alsace. In New York's Finger Lakes Region Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery produces an Orange Muscat dessert wine. A state that is not as widely known to grow and bottle the muscat grape is Texas. Messina Hoff Vineyards in Bryan Texas bottles an excellent late harvest Muscat Canelli.


Darjeeling tea is often said to have a flavour reminiscent of muscatel, although the similarity is purely coincidental as the tea contains no grape products.

Muscat tea, a (non-alcoholic) flavor of iced tea, similar to the better-known lemon tea and peach tea flavors, is available in Japanmarker.

See also


  1. J. Robinson Vines Grapes & Wines pg 183 Mitchell Beazley 1986 ISBN 1-85732-999-6
  2. "WineAccess" Retrieved on 12 January 2009
  3. Rutherglen Muscat ClassificationSolera system
  4. Serbian Wine Route

External links

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