Weekly Wine Quiz #115: Grape Trivia – Muscat
The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…
Welcome to your new wine quiz!
We are continuing our grape trivia series, and today’s subject is the grape called Muscat.
Going through The Wine Century Club journey, I always make an effort to figure out if the seemingly new grape is actually not a localized name for the grape which I already counted. Muscat is always one of the biggest challengers; trying to figure out all those name interconnections is often quite tedious. Only now, when I set to work on this quiz, I realized why is that.
It appears that Muscat has a lot of very unique characteristics, which makes it one and only in many instances (think about your own grape ranking – is Muscat stands appropriately high in it? Stop it, don’t bring out the Moscato d’Asti subject…). Let me give you a few facts. Muscat is one of the oldest grapes used in winemaking, with its history going back thousands and thousands years back. According to some theories, Muscat considered to be one of the very first domesticated grapes, and it is possible that majority of the Vitis Vinifera grapes are offspring of Muscat.
Muscat is actually a family, which includes about 200 different grapes – no wonder it is hard to figure out which one is which. Muscat grapes are grown both for winemaking and for the table grape consumption, which again makes it very unique (most of the Vitis Vinifera grapes are produced for winemaking only). Muscat is often imagined as a white grape variety, which is true for the majority of the grapes – however, red, blue and black Muscat grapes are also part of the family. To continue making everything just a bit more complicated, you can’t tell the color by just the name – unless you know it already. It is easy to figure out that Grenache is a red grape, and Grenache Blanc is white, or that Pinot Noir is a red and Pinot Blanc is white. Talking about Muscat, you have to know that Muscat of Alexandria is white, and Muscat of Hamburg is red, often called Black Muscat.
Considering such a long history and diversity, it is not surprising that Muscat is growing pretty much everywhere in the world, and it is used in production of the whole range of wines, starting from sparkling (Moscato d’Asti), going to the dry (Spanish Moscatel wines come to mind), and of course, sweet, both regular and fortified – Australia, France, Italy, South Africa and many others greatly excel here. While yes, there are about 200 grapes in the Muscat family, four varieties can be identied as “main” – Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat of Hamburg and Muscat Ottonel. Many Muscat grapes, which you know under their unique names will be simply local names for some of these “main” varietals. For instance, Moscato d’Asti is a Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, and Spanish Moscatel is actually a Muscat of Alexandria.
All the different varieties of Muscat have different growing characteristics and challenges – for instance, Muscat of Alexandria has a tendency to overproduce and needs to be controlled in the vineyard; Muscat Ottonel is a palest of the all Muscat grapes and ripens the earliest. What is common between all the Muscat grapes is aromatics, the characteristic “musky” aroma. Muscat generally very easily accumulates sugar and has naturally low acidity, thus it doesn’t age for too long on its own – but fortified wines, of course, can live literally forever.
And now, to the quiz!
Q1: This Italian wine, made out of the Muscat of Alexandria grapes (which has a different local name), is quite unique in having a given vintage receive top ratings from all main Italian wine publications, including Gambero Rosso, Slow Wine, Bibenda and Veronelli. Can you name this wine?
Q2: This Muscat wine was the last solace of exiled Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Can you name the wine and the country where it was made?
Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?
b. Beaumes de Venise
Q4: Muscat wines often get very high ratings from the reviewers. Based on Wine Spectator Classic wines (95 – 100 rating), which country do you think has the most Muscat wines rated as Classic:
Q5: Which should be excluded and why?
a. Muscat of Alexandria
c. Moscato Giallo
d. Muscat of Hamburg
e. Morio Muskat
Good luck, enjoy the quiz and the rest of your weekend! Cheers!