We all have that one friend who loves Moscato and drinks nothing else. Maybe we are that friend ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, Moscato can be great; it has its time and place to be enjoyed, but it’s sweetness and (often times) lack of complexity leaves us seeking better options.
All too frequently, I greet guests who come into the store looking for a gift for their Moscato-crazed friend or colleague. They’re surprised and discouraged when I tell them I don’t have anything “higher end” to offer them. (Most Moscato are $10 or under and White Zinfandel fetches prices even lower). What I do offer them instead is a recommendation for an alternative I’m sure their friend will love. Sweet German Riesling, Semi-sparkling Italian Malvasia, Sangue du Guida, Demi-Sec Champagne… All of these are steps in the right direction. But now, especially after seeking approval from Moscato-lovers at our wine sampling station, I’ve come to realize another alternative: Vouvray.
Vouvray is a region in France that produces white wines made from the Chenin Blanc grape variety. These wines can range in style from dry to really sweet and even sparkling. Sec, Tendre, Demi-sec, Moelleux and Doux are the labeling terms, from driest to sweetest, used to describe the sweetness level of both still and sparkling Vouvray. Demi-sec (meaning “half dry”) is my go-to style; its sweetness is present but not overwhelming. This is a wine that both you and your Moscato fanatic friend can enjoy together. It’s a happy medium that’s perfectly balanced with the good amount of acidity that Vouvray is known for. It’s this acidity that permits longevity of the wine. Contrary to popular belief, not all wines improve with age. White wine in particular does not generally age well. Only the rare exceptions can stand up to Father Time. Similar to German Rieslings or fine Sauternes, Vouvrays can be aged for decades or longer. In fact, during my visit to a winery in Vouvray last summer, I got to see the last few remaining bottles of an 1874 vintage Vouvray sleeping in a Tuffeau stone wine cave waiting to be purchased and enjoyed.
Honeycomb, fig, candied ginger and ripe peach are just a few of the flavors and aromas you’ll grasp from a Vouvray. The greater complexity paired with the balanced, food-friendly acidity of these wines will make Vouvrays irresistible to you and your Moscato fan. Try one and report back to your local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Specialist on your conclusions!
Janessa Schuster, Wine Consultant Tampa