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Posted: September 12, 2011

Moscato and hip-hop

A wine worthy of song

Here's what I can tell you about the wine called "Moscato" - almost nothing - until this week.

When a dear, non-wine-drinking friend Facebooked me and raved on and on about the extraordinary Moscato she had with dinner - and could I recommend Moscatos I liked? - I was embarrassed to admit to anyone, myself included, that I only knew the word, figured it was probably sweet (I'm pretty correct on that one), and that Moscato wasn't "really wine." (Not so right on the last point.)

But I'm a quick study. Due diligence into Moscato-land taught me that there are whole worlds, entire groups of people, even cult-like communities who love, cherish, nurture and drink Moscato with feverish devotion.

Here's what you need to know (and some of what I learned): Muscato comes from the Muscat grape, a white, sweet grape. You know the raisins we all love? They are likely made with Muscat grapes. Sweet, light Moscato wines are also made from those grapes as well, and a whole host of varieties derive from Muscat grapes, including sparkling wines and mixed or hybrid wines.

As its name indicates, Moscato comes from the Italian wine culture and the Muscat grape is considered one of the oldest grapes known. It is often placed in the "dessert wine" category, but in Europe cheeses and fruits are often dessert, so it's not necessarily meant to go alongside the chocolate éclair alone.

But all of those heady Moscato wine facts are clouding what we really want to get to: the fact that the wine's inspired hip-hop lyrics on more than one occasion, something even this Moscato-ignorant Wine Wench could never make up.

To wit:

"Still over in Brazil/Sipping moscato/You must have forgot though/So I'ma take it back to the block, yo." - Lil Kim (Lighters up)

"It's a celebration/ clap clap bravo/ lobster & shrimp & a glass of moscato...finish the whole bottle" Trey Songs ft. Dreake (Invented Sex)

Moreover, Kanye West held a 2005 event and served (and touted) special bottles of Saraco Moscato d'Asti at his party.

So here's how you buy Moscato: You can email Sheila Carey at Argonaut Wine & Liquor and the guys at City Wine to ask for recommendations (as I did). Or you can enjoy the more fun shopping experiment of hitting your favorite liquor store or wine shop and buying three or four bottles of medium-priced Moscato because all the research says that the low priced ones (1) don't represent a respectable Moscato; and (2) don't taste great. Being cheap in the Moscato department, they say, doesn't work.

If you're risk-averse, here are a couple of suggestions from Sheila at Argonaut:

Chiarlo Nivole in the half bottle;
La Spinetta for high end; and
Lazurro for inexpensive.

I'm giving a bottle of the Chiarlo Nivole to the friend that Facebook alerted me to the Moscato world today. I'll let you know what she thinks of it - oh, wait - all this Moscato-talk is inspiring a Moscato Hip Hop song:

I'm givin' you the half girl/but you know you is a whole/give it lots o' love/oh and let the wine unfol'. Yo.

Okay. Perhaps I'll just stick to wine drinking and writing.

One Winning Wine Tasting

4th Annual CHUN Wine Tasting & Silent Auction

Capital Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN) will host a 4th Annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Tears-McFarlane House. A variety of wines will be available, as well as free chair massages, live music and a silent auction. The wine tasting will also feature a collection of memorabilia from the 40 years of the CHUN Capitol Hill People's Fair. Participating restaurants and caterers include: Capitol Hill Whole Foods, The Irish Snug, Lala's Wine Bar and Pizzeria, Lovely Confections, Marlowe's, and Shells & Sauce.
Cost is $35. For further information contact Andrea at 303-830-1651 or andreafurness@chundenver.org.

Weird Wine Trivia
Facts:

• Grenache is the mostly widely grown grape in the world.
• Dean Martin sang and popularized the song "That Little Old Winemaker, Me" in 1967.
• Greece, well known for its wine producing, also produces about two-thirds of the world's olive oil.
• "Soave" is an Italian white wine from the Veneto region of Italy.
• The French appellation, Chateauneuf du Pape, has a law that forbids the landing of flying saucers in the region's vineyards.
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Readers Respond

I discovered Sutter Home Winery's Muscat Amabille, later renamed Moscato, the first year they bottled it, about 1985 I think. I don't know where you'd place it in your price list, but it is an awesome wine, and I have introduced many people to it. I like it best after dinner, by the fire, cuddling up. By Elliott Arthur on 2011 09 14

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