America’s youth have a sweet tooth, and it’s driving the sales of Moscato. Just over the last three years, sales of moscato have exploded into something of a sugary sweet bomb. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reports, sales grew 78%; in 2012, moscato overtook sauvignon blanc as the second most-popular white varietal (chardonnay still holding onto its number one spot), with sales of 2.8 million, reports the Napa Valley Register. And sales of moscato grew again by 25 percent in 2012. “In the U.S., moscato’s popularity has exploded over the past three years, with sales growing faster than any other wine varietal,” Stephanie Gallo, the vice president of marketing for Gallo Family Vineyard.
“Previously people thought drinking sophisticated meant drinking dry wine,” says Wendy Nyberg, senior director of marketing for Sutter Home, part of Trinchero Family Estate. “The younger consumer doesn’t care about that – they like sweet things, and they drink what they like.”
That might be overstating it, but Moscato’s rise is certainly hinged on a younger drinker – and on its sweet side. While sweet, Moscato is not a dessert wine. The low alcohol content, around 7 to 9 percent, and blossomy aromas certainly add to its appeal, as does it’s friendly price tag of $8 to $15. And even though the grape – native to Northern Italy – has been around for ages, Moscato’s newfound popularity is being driven by California vineyards, and here ability to target the milenials. And it’s working when there’s an Instagram hashtag for it. If you browse the current 259,037 photos on Instagram, you’ll find everything from simple bottle shots (the more reserved photos) to 20-something girls posing with glasses, bottle shots, lots and lots of “selfies.”
America’s affinity for Moscato continues to make headlines as its light, aromatic style brings more and more people into wine. You know Moscato has infiltrated the culture when Campari released the first Moscato-based vodka on the market, a flavored vodka that taps into the stunning popularity of the sweet, fruity, aromatic wine which has been called “the new Cristal” for being peddled by hip hop artists like Nelly, Drake, Soulja Boy and Gucci Mane. The excitement around this wine varietal led Gallo Family Vineyards to establish May 9th as National Moscato Day as a way to capture these important wine conversations and toast the varietal that has everyone talking.
“The legacy of my grandfather and great uncle, Ernest and Julio Gallo, is the importance of making quality and affordable wines that Americans want to enjoy during life’s everyday moments,” saidStephanie Gallo, Vice President of Marketing at E&J Gallo Winery and third generation Gallo family member. “For nearly 80 years we have been joining Americans at the table, so it’s exciting to see a particular wine style draw so many new people into the wine category. National Moscato Day was established to celebrate these newcomers and wine enthusiasts alike.”
Today, May 9th, Gallo Family Vineyards will be hosting the second annual National Moscato Day Twitter Party from 9:00pm to 10:00pm EDT . Throughout the party, participants will have the opportunity to share and gather hosting tips, food pairing suggestions and wine facts by joining the conversation using the hashtag #MoscatoDay on Twitter.
To lead the charge, Gallo Family Vineyards enlisted entertaining expert Robyn Moreno to provide easy entertaining tips guaranteed to make anyone’s National Moscato Day party a hit.
“Throwing a wine-themed party is a great way to spend time with your friends and families, and you don’t need much to make it a success,” says Moreno. “Here are ways to get started:
- Mix It Up: Gallo Family Vineyards offers three delicious types of Moscato – White, Red, and Pink. If you want people to get talking about the wine, try setting up different stations around the room. Feature tasting notes if you really want to get the conversation going.
- Not Your Ordinary Cheese Tray: Moscato pairs perfectly with cheese, such as Brie, Camembert, aged Parmesan and Pecorino Romano. Style up your cheese plate by making a slit in a wine cork and sliding in a card labeling the cheeses. The display is an easy and elegant way to let your guests know what they are eating.
- Spice Not Stress: Moscato and spicy food are the perfect combination and serving Paella is a clever, chic way to feed a crowd. Plus, since this flavorful rice-based dish can be made with almost anything – grilled meats, seafood, or veggies – everyone will be able to enjoy it and you won’t be tasked with making multiple meals.
- Decorating Couldn’t Be Easier: Create clever centerpieces from pretty items in your home. A beautiful tray can become a blossoming centerpiece when decorated with fresh fruit and a birdcage can become a glided candleholder with a pillar placed inside.
- Don’t Let The Party End: To enjoy another night of great wine, pour the remaining Moscato into ice trays that you can use later in sparkling water for a updated take on a “white wine spritzer!”
So for every bottle of Moscato on the shelf of your local wine shop, a wine snob is turning up their nose at this sweet varietal being celebrated in rap video’s.
Said one Napa Valley wine expert to the Wall Street Journal,”The moscato movement feels more like the wine-cooler movement today.” Sure, if you love wine coolers, you will probably also love moscato. Or, writes Willy Staley in New York magazine, “For wine snobs, moscato is the new white zin, the varietal used as a knowing punch line on Frasier and, more recently, as the tongue-in-cheek name of a highbrow-meets-lowbrow arts-and-food magazine. It’s a signifier for plonk at which the enlightened turn up their well-trained noses.” Even the New York Times’ Eric Pfanner has chimed in as a wine snob:
“While it is pleasing to see an underappreciated wine style get a deserved bit of attention, the response of the global wine trade to the moscato phenomenon has been less commendable. While moscato used to be made mostly in the hills around Asti [in Italy], sources proliferated as the industry scrambled to capitalize on the new interest. Suddenly there was moscato from California, from Australia, from Argentina, from South Africa — you name it. A lot of the new moscato tastes nothing like the original. Indeed, it tastes the way you might expect a sweet, slightly fizzy wine that’s low in alcohol — and usually cheap — to taste.”
Well then. Why the love-hate relationship?
Well, it’s definitely love for Gallo and other brands that decided to jump on board the moscato bandwagon — and they’re laughing all the way to the bank. “We’re seeing a new generation enjoying sweet wines outside of traditional occasions, particularly with millennials,” says Gallo. “They are taking a greater interest in wine than ever before, and moscato is at the forefront of why they’re choosing wine.” Gallo continues, “In the past, it was customary to pour moscato after dinner or with dessert. Now, we’re seeing a younger, more adventurous generation of wine drinkers who aren’t adhering to conventional wine traditions.”
So can we really hate on millennials for choosing a moscato? After all, we’re a generation that grew up on Coke and sugary sweet drinks, so it should be no surprise that our wine palates lean toward something sweet over something acidic or tannic. Tim Elliot writes on his blog Winecast that this isn’t that surprising that the wine market is meeting the demand: “A decade ago tankers of Australian shriaz with a slight addition of concentrate to add residual sugar weaned Americans off Coke and into wine. If you browse your local wine store or supermarket you will also notice more ‘sweet red’ blends on the shelf than ever. And I’ve seen a rise in sweet riesling lately as well.”
So love it or hate it, we wish you a happy Moscato Day!