It's a question that send shivers down the spines of wine tasting room employees all over Michigan. Moscato is growing in popularity among women and new wine drinkers across the state (and country). This is evident by the rows of rows of cheap, sweet white wine bearing this label dominating the aisles of supermarkets and party stores.
There are parallels to the White Zinfandel craze that swept the nation a decade ago. What's not to like? It's a sweet wine that's easy to drink and is attracting new wine consumers. It's inexpensive and available pretty much everywhere. Everywhere except most Michigan wine tasting rooms.
Let's start with the premise that I am a big believer in drinking what you like. I don't think professional wine scores or reviews should dissuade you from drinking wine that you enjoy. Sommeliers should not look down on people for finding a wine that they like, regardless of its stigma.
However, sommeliers and wine professionals have an obligation to help consumers expand their horizons and suggest wines with a similar flavor profile and price point. I believe that Moscato drinkers could add some joy and adventure to their lives if they ventured outside of their comfort zones and looked at what Michigan has to offer.
The Moscato of the current supermarket craze is sweet, oftentimes with an overpowering amount of added sugar, depending on the producer. It has a musky characteristic, which adds some dimension. I'd argue that there are several Michigan wines that have some similar qualities, but with subtle differences that can really make sweet whites even more interesting and more enjoyable.
(I should note here that the wineries listed are merely off the top of my head, and by no means an exhaustive list of those producing quality wines of these varietals and styles.)
Traminette: Look for a Traminette done in a sweet style. It has spicy and floral components that complement the sweetness. Try: Domaine Berrien Cellars, St. Julian
Gewurztraminer: Many Gewurztraminers are also done is a sweet style. Not quite as musky, but very floral with flavors of white grapefruit. Try: Brys Estate, Peninsula Cellars, Blustone Vineyards
Riesling: The queen of grapes in Michigan. The sweeter styles often bear labels with "late harvest" or "select harvest" designations. Many have a graphic on the back of the label (which we affectionately call "the sweet-o-meter") that shows how sweet they are. Rieslings have the added advantage of higher acidity, which balances out the sweetness and makes them a tremendous wine to pair with food. Try: Peninsula Cellars, Chateau Chantal, Fenn Valley, 2 Lads, Chateau Grand Traverse, Left Foot Charley ... well, you pretty much have your pick here in Michigan!
Hybrid blends: Many white hybrid grapes have a distinctive musky flavor profile and many are done in a sweet style. They also tend to be priced attractively. The grape blends are too numerous to name, but most wineries give their versions a proprietary name. Try: Verterra Winery, Flying Otter Vineyard & Winery, Sandhill Crane Vineyards, Burgdorf's Winery
What are your favorite sweet whites? Come discuss it on our Facebook page!
Article by Shannon Casey, MichiganByTheBottle.com. We strive to be your definitive source of information on Michigan wines; therefore, we welcome you to link to this page or print an excerpt that leads back to our site. However, as our work is copyrighted, we kindly ask that you do not copy and paste this or any other portion of Michigan By the Bottle in its entirety on another site. We appreciate your cooperation. For reprint inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.