What is the Best Wine for Beginners? A Guide to Sweet Moscato

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We’re often told by people who wine taste at Quady Winery that they didn’t think they liked wine until they tried our Electra Moscatos. This got us thinking about our first wine tasting experiences and how they can shape our relationship (or lack of) with wine. Usually, you just need to find the right wine to start out with. So, what is the best wine for beginners? The answer is, it depends on your taste preferences. Here are a couple of questions that will help you determine if Moscato is for you: Do you find many wines taste sour? Are you sensitive to alcohol? Do you have a sweet tooth? Are you a fruit lover? If you answered yes to any one of the above, chances are, sweet, low-alcohol Moscato is an ideal wine for you. Let’s talk more about it!

A common perception in the wine industry is that sweet wine is for beginners and dry wine is for those with a more sophisticated, seasoned palate. While we think sweet wine is an excellent choice for beginning wine drinkers, we disagree with the perception that sweet wine isn’t sophisticated. Moscato is far more complex than many realize. Countries with long traditions in fine dry winemaking such as France and Italy, have equally long histories of fine sweet winemaking. While sweet wines have been looked down upon in the U.S., in Europe they are highly valued, made by expert winemakers, and treated as a special experience both before and after dinner. At Quady Winery, we are proud expert sweet winemakers and we’d love to open the door to you to discover more about this delicious style of wine.

Why is Moscato the best wine for beginners?

Moscato is a low alcohol, sweet, medium to low-acidity wine bursting with fresh fruit flavors and fragrant floral aromas, making it especially palatable for beginning wine drinkers. It is made from Muscat grapes – often Muscat Canelli or Muscat of Alexandria – which are grown all over the world. In fact, Muscat grapes are believed to be some of the oldest in history with origins in ancient Egypt. Today there are more than 200 varieties. Muscat grapes have high residual sugar and low acid, contributing to Moscato’s sweet taste.

Electra Moscato surrounded by fresh peaches and pears.

At Quady Winery, we use blends of Orange Muscat, Muscat Canelli and Black Muscat to craft our Electra Moscatos because of the unparalleled flavors and aromas we’re able to produce from these varietals. Orange Muscat features notes of citrus, honeysuckle and stone fruit like peach and apricot, while Black Muscat has notes of rose petal and dark berries like boysenberry or strawberry. With delicious fruit flavors and delicate floral aromas, Electra Moscatos are easy-drinking wines for beginners, and are still complex enough to keep people sipping them for years after trying them for the first time.

Moscatos are made in a variety of styles, including: sparkling, semi-sparkling (frizzante), still, fortified, white, pink and red. Electra Moscatos are made in the semi-sparkling style (which is also known as Moscato d’Asti) and another reason we recommend them as one of the best wines for beginners. The low alcohol and light-bodied sweetness, combined with a soft effervescence, makes the sipping experience crisp and refreshing rather than heavy and cloying (overly sweet and syrupy).

Electra Moscato is a White Moscato made with Orange Muscat and Muscat Canelli grapes; with only 4.5% alcohol it is the lightest on the market today! For those who are sensitive to alcohol, or who would just like to cut back, Electra is a great choice, offering mouthwatering flavor and perfect balance, without the alcohol.

Most Pink Moscato that you find on shelves is actually white Moscato with a splash of red wine such as Merlot. Most Red Moscatos in the stores have added Zinfandel, or another red varietal. The red wines add color but they dull the aromas and flavors of the Muscat varieties. The end result is a sweet wine that is unbalanced and less pleasurable wine that is sweet, but is lacking in balance, aroma and flavor.

Red Electra Moscato surrounded by fresh berries and flowers

Why don’t most red and pink Moscatos on the market use a red Moscato grape variety? We think the answer is that there is only one red Moscato variety, it’s called Black Muscat. Very little of it is produced in the U.S. It is a little harder to grow and can be lower yielding unless you know how to grow it. Quady Winery contracts with grape growers in our local area to grow this special variety and as a result, we buy most of the Black Muscat grown in California to use in our low alcohol and fortified Muscat wines.

Red Electra Moscato and Electra Moscato Rosé are made with all Muscat varietals and are only 5.5% alcohol, another great choice for those who prefer lower alcohol wines, and especially if you like red fruits and are looking for a sweet red wine. The varietals we use are Black Muscat, Orange Muscat and Muscat Canelli for true, unmatched Muscat flavors and aromas balanced with characteristic Muscat sweetness and acidity. When sweet wine drinkers experience a wine that is made from 100% Muscat grapes – like our Moscatos for the first time – a big smile spreads across their face, as they’ve never tasted a Moscato so satisfying before.

At Quady Winery, in addition to our low alcohol Moscatos mentioned above, we also make fortified Muscat wines; fortified means we add alcohol to the wines to arrest the fermentation process and preserve the natural sweetness in the wine. This results in a sweet wine with higher alcohol content, around 15%. Most fortified Muscat wines are categorized as dessert wines because of their sweetness and higher alcohol percentages. Dessert wines are enjoyed after dinner paired with dessert or consumed alone in lieu of dessert. But we have plenty of fans who enjoy our fortified wines Essensia and Elysium any time, not just for dessert!

Are dessert wines ideal for beginners? Essensia Orange Muscat and Elysium Black Muscat dessert wines.

Do we consider dessert wines among the best wines for beginners?

Generally, we recommend a light, frizzante-style Moscato like Electra Moscato as the best wine for beginners, but the balance of sweetness and acidity in our Muscat fortified wines also makes for a pleasant sipping experience without being cloying. Just be mindful that the alcohol percentage in a fortified wine is much higher than that of a Moscato! We recommend adding sparkling water and ice to our fortified Muscat wines for a refreshing lighter alcohol experience.

What’s the best way to serve Moscato?

Moscato should be served chilled to soften its sweetness and allow its fruit and floral flavors and aromas to take center stage. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to what temperature they like drinking their wine at, but generally speaking, place your Moscato in the fridge for several hours until it is completely chilled. You want it to reach about 40 °F because most Moscatos are semi-sparkling and you want to keep those bubbles crisp. Don’t stress about the wine being too cold; it’s far more enjoyable to have Moscato very chilled instead of warm or even room temperature. Moscato is also the type of wine that does well with ice in it, however, you do run the risk of watering down some of the flavors, aromas and bubbles this way.

Electra Moscatos on ice

What foods pair best with sweet Moscatos?

Another reason Moscato is the best wine for beginners is because of its versatility when it comes to food pairings. Spicy foods are an excellent pairing choice with Moscato because the low alcohol content won’t clash or compete with the spiciness of a dish. The sweetness in Moscato is also a delicious complement to spices and spicy produce like chili peppers. Try Electra Moscato Rosé with a variety of Asian cuisines, Red Electra Moscato with tacos and other Mexican dishes, and Electra Moscato with tangy barbecue – you won’t be disappointed!

Red Electra Moscato with a plate of tacos, salsa, jalapeños and an avocado

Moscato can also be served with fruits, salads, charcuterie, brunch foods and even fast food! Moscato is an excellent pairing with sweets as well; we love it with chocolate truffles and holiday pies. Experiment with your own pairings to find out what you like best – there’s no wrong way to enjoy a sweet Moscato!

Now that you know all about Moscato and why it can be the best wine for beginners as well as a complex and sophisticated accompaniment to a variety of foods and desserts, do you agree? What do you think is the best wine for beginners? Let us know in the comments or visit us on social @quadywinery!

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