Moscato may command just 6% of the wine market share in the U.S., but that’s up 33% in the past year, according to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute. Other high-growth wines in 2012 include domestic red blends/sweet red wines, up 22% in volume with 5% share of market, and Malbec, which increased 21% with a 1% share.
The rise in moscato, also known as Muscat, can be attributed to several factors. One is exposure thanks to rap star fans of the wine, such as Kayne West and Lil’ Kim. This is introducing the varietal to a younger audience.
Moscato is also benefitting from the fact that more consumers are exploring, experiencing and embracing the wine and food culture of Italy, according to one on-premise operator. Not that it’s just Italian restaurants offering moscato, however: Asian-theme bistro chain P.F. Chang’s finds that the wine makes a perfect aperitif and also compliments its cuisine.
Overall, moscato’s aromatic, light and sweet taste profile generally appeals to the American palette–especially the Millennials now discovering the varietal. But most operators agree that moscato’s success stems largely from its price, accessibility and reliability. Consumers are now experimenting with various wines, and it helps when the wines are approachable and affordable.