Muscat (AKA Moscato)
Continuing my theme of things that my brain sometimes can't keep straight, we have the three similar “M”'s. When I think of a lite wine to serve with some seafood in the summertime, often I'll think of of one of these – but I often forget which is which.
This is a grape.
It is normally grown in Bordeaux, but not a lot is produced.
I know it as the minor grape that supplies a little spice in the delicious Sauternes dessert wines (the main grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion) and the dry wines from Entre-Deux-Mers (which I like to say out loud - "Awn-tru Duh Mair") where it adds a honeyed aroma.
In Australia they do some fun things with it such as using it for fortified wines.
It is not related to the Muscat family of grapes.
This is a region.
Located in the western section of the Loire valley in France, Muscadet is a wine produced from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, which is often known as just "Melon" or "Muscadet" (D'oh! So it's a grape and the region. Or not. Thx!). Low in alcohol and sometimes produced with a little extra creaminess from leaving the dead yeast cells in contact with the wine, this is the wine that people traditionally pair with oysters.
I have not drunk a lot of Muscadet, but the few I have had have been almost shockingly neutral - although quite refreshing.
Drink them young!
This is a grape.
It's an old grape - described by one book as "ancient and versatile". The general consensus about this grape is that it is "Grapey" - a description that always makes me chuckle.
How's that wine? Grapey!
My friend Charles describes "Grapey" as "the fruit character of table grapes".
Probably the most common use of the Muscat grape (at least for my mouth) is the fortified sweet wine "Beaumes-de-venise" from the Rhone valley. This is yet another one I like to say aloud: "bome da veh nees"!
What is fortified wine?
It means that a spirit was added during fermentation (the extra alcohol stops fermentation and helps preserve sweetness and obviously raises the level of alcohol).
Other examples? Port. Sherry. Night train. Mad Dog.
In Italy, they call this grape "Moscato" - that's crazy!
If you grew up down south then you are probably familar with Muscadine. Or not. Muscadine is the name of a grapevine species - more precisely Vitis rotundifolia - and it loves the eastern United States. There are tons of varieties of Muscadine grapes such as the big ol fatty grape scuppernong - also the name of a somewhat clever band from Chapel Hill in the early 90's.
During the past Christian Holiday Shopping Season, we had some wines made from various Muscadine grapes at a winery down in North Carolina. The whole Muscadine family/species contains high levels of resveratrol - much higher than the regular red grapes we drink wine from.
Even though I had just completed the viti/vini exam (viticulture/vinification) I had to refresh my brain to why resveratrol was a good thing. According to the internets, it has a wide variety of alleged health benefits. Wide.
Anti-ageing. Anti-cancer. Anti-hair greying. Anti-anxiety about retirement funds. Anti-sad about life's missed oppurtunities.
We had a 5-6 different Muscadine wines and they all have a similar taste that is often described as "foxy". Next to "grapey", "foxy" is my other favorite wine description.
Foxy is used to describe the wild and musky taste of the grapes.
Personally, I think I'd just use the word "musky", but foxy is pretty fun to say.