Muscat grapes are mostly grown for table grapes, raisins and more importantly, wine. It belongs to the species Vitis vinifera of which 99% of the world's wine is produced. Ranging from white to almost black in color, Muscat grapes are harvested very late in the growing season, which contributes to their very sweet taste.
With over 200 varieties and derivatives, it is one of the most commonly grown grapes in the world. Much more, it is believed to be the the oldest variety of domesticated grapes known to mankind. There are even theories indicating that most grapes of the Vitis vinifera species originated from the Muscat variety. Here are some of its more popular variants:
Muscat Blanc á Petit 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 depending on the country in which it is produced. This particular variety has the most sparkling flavors. It can be recognized in the names Asti Spumante, Clairette de Die, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise and some Tokaji wines.
Moscato Giallo (Goldmuskateller). Also known as Moscato Rosa (Rosenmuskateller), it is though as a colored version of the Muscat Blanc á Petit Grains.
Muscat Hamburg (Moscato di Amburgo). Also called Black Muscat, it is grown in Italy and Australia mainly for table grapes, in California as a dessert wine and some European countries to make red wines like Malbec.
Muscat of Alexandria. Also called Moscatel, Moscatel Romano, Moscatel de Málaga, Muscat Gordo Blanco, Hanepoot, Lexia, Moscatel Gordo, and Zibibbo. This grape is one of only three permitted varieties used in a true sherry. It is also used to make moscatel or muscatel wines, muscatel liqueurs such as Muscatel de Valencia and Muscatel Passito among others and also for table grape and raisin.
Muscat Ottonel. Also called Moskately, thrives in countries of cooler climates like Romania, Bulgaria, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia for dessert wines, Alsace and Hungary for dry wines and in Italy for sparkling wines.
Orange Muscat. This variety which is mainly used in California and Australia wineries for producing dessert wines has a distinctive flavor of oranges.
Moscatel de Setúbal and Moscatel de Favaios. Usually served in bars or as an aperitif at restaurants, these are the two most widely consumed varieties in Portugal.
Muscat Crocant . In Serbia, it grows only on Pearl Island (Biserno Ostrvo) on Tisza River. Used for making dessert wine under the same name.
Moravian Muscat. Grown in Czech Republic, it is the most widespread among recent wine cultivars.
Because of its many different varieties, the taste, aroma, and color of wines made from Muscat grapes vary from one place to another. Even the names of the different varieties cannot adequately describe the color of the fruit. Depending on the Muscat variety and wine making process used, different kinds of wine may be produced such as dry, light, heavy, and sweet.
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