I am writing this not only because it is a fun subject, but many people ask me what’s the difference between Muscat, Muscadelle, and Muscadet and some other similar wines. What follows is some good info; so the next time you go into your favorite wine shop you have it all straight….
Let’s talk about Muscat first. There are many pseudonyms for this grape. For example Moscato (in Italy ), Muskadel (in South Africa ), Muskateller (in Germany ) and Moscatel (in both Spain and Portugal ). Phew!!! Why can’t everybody just agree on one freakin’ name, right? Life would be too easy.
To make it even more confusing, Muscat can have various names attached to it, such as “ Alexandria ”, “Ottonel”, and the rather drawn-out phrase “Blanc à Petits Grains”. But don’t focus on these add-on phrases – they’re just different varieties of the same grape, and all will be extremely sweet-scented, aromatic and grapey. So, just note that Dry or Sweet; Still, Sparkling, or Fortified: Muscat has a discrete aroma and flavor that is absolutely beautifully delicious.
The next one is Muscadelle, which is not related to Muscat at all. Just to be clear….
Muscadelle, is one of the three grapes allowed for white French Bordeaux, the other two more notable grapes being Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon. Muscadelle is commonly used to add a tangy and tasty, youthfulness to white Bordeaux blends. It hardly ever gets top billing because it lacks the characteristics necessary to make a single varietal wine you’d call yummy. But it’s a matter of taste. If you see one, pick it up and try it.
Wait! hold your horses!
There is one exception to this Muscadelle rule and it is in Australia, where Muscadelle is used on its own to produce lusciously sweet fortified wines. The grape is called “Tokay” over there. Don’t ask why. But it is incredible! By the way, there is Tojaji from Hungary which Peter the Great used to drink calling it the “Wine of Kings” …but that’s another story.
Finally, there’s Muscadet. A popular LIGHT and DRY wine produced in the western part of France’s Loire region. Distinct from most other wines in France, the name of the wine is not taken from a town or geographic area, but rather from a grape known locally called Muscadet, even though its proper name is Melon de Bourgogne. Although it can be a bit neutral in flavor, Muscadet has a lot of energy. It is dry with a crisp zippy acidity, making it a great match for shellfish. You might see the term “sur lie” on the label. If you do, make sure to buy that one because it has been aged on the lees (with all the wine sediment), and this lends a delicious richness to the wine.
I hope this helps clarify Muscat, Muscadelle, and Muscadet; because it’s really great stuff and if you love wine you should be having a lot of these three.