When both Riesling and Moscato have gained reputations for being on the sweeter and aromatic side of the white wine spectrum it can be easy to mistake one for the other.
But what makes Riesling different from Moscato?
And should you buy one of these wines over the other?
Let’s take a look at the main difference between Riesling wine and Moscato wine.
Riesling vs Moscato: 7 Main Differences
Telling the difference between a Riesling and a Moscato may seem impossible at first. So let's break the grapes down into more manageable categories:
First things first, where do Riesling and Moscato come from?
Riesling is originally from Germany and research has traced the grape back to the Rhine river Region of Germany, as well as nearby Alsace in France.
Moscato, on the other hand, originates from Italy and can be traced back to the Italian region of Asti.
So straight away we have two main differences in that Riesling is Germanic in origin and Moscato is Italian. But what about the characteristics of Riesling and Moscato grapes?
Riesling and Moscato are both white wine grapes but they will have different characteristics to define them.
Riesling is an incredibly hardy grape which grows in small, compact bunches making them excellent grapes for sweet wine production.
Riesling grapes can express terroir exceptionally well.
Moscato is from the Muscat family of grapes, a variety that is known for producing wines that have very distinctive grapey flavours and aromas.
But if Riesling and Moscato are both white wine grapes does that mean the wines look the same?
Riesling tends to make a very pale, white wine often described as golden or straw like in colour.
A lot of Moscato wines are slightly carbonated so the bubbles will be a clear indicator of the difference between a Moscato and a Riesling.
Moscato wines will also be incredibly pale, and perhaps paler than a Riesling as they are often served much younger.
Speaking of serving, how should you serve a Riesling and a Moscato wine?
Riesling and Moscato wines both like to be served cold.
Because of its sweet nature and high acidity Moscato is best served very chilled. The best temperature to serve Moscato is between 41-46°F or 5-8°C.
Riesling can handle a slightly warmer temperature and the best temperature to serve Riesling is between 45–49°F or 6-9°C.
So how do the serving temperatures of Riesling and Moscato affect their tasting notes?
Although Riesling comes in many different styles, some tasting notes associated with the grape include lime zest, juicy nectarines and even the smell of petrol.
Riesling has a very distinctive perfume, with lots of developed notes of honeycomb and preserved stone fruits, making it a really interesting style of wine to taste across winemaking regions.
Typical tasting notes of Moscato include Meyer lemon, peaches and pear blossom. Moscato is perhaps softer and sweeter to taste, with light notes of white lilies and candied pear drops.
So what are the best food pairings for Riesling and Moscato?
Moscato makes a beautiful aperitif and goes wonderfully with salted snacks such as cured meats and roasted almonds.
Riesling is a wonderful food wine and can go well with all manner of dishes.
Try a glass with your next pad thai, or even with a roast dinner that has lots of different tasting accompaniments.
So how do the characteristics of Riesling and Moscato affect their price?
You should expect to pay more for your Riesling than your Moscato and that is perhaps their main difference.
Moscato makes fun, fizzy wines with low price points whereas Riesling’s reputation, its potential for ageing and the skill required to make the wine well all add to a slightly higher price tag.
So does that mean that Riesling is better than Moscato?
Which Is Better: Riesling Or Moscato?
The only person who can decide once and for all whether Riesling or Moscato is the better wine is you!
So grab a bottle of each, grab some friends and get tasting!
You may find that Moscato makes a better tasting party wine, or that you prefer Riesling at your next special occasion, but don't let anyone other than your tastebuds decide that.
So there we have it, everything you need to know about what differentiates a Riesling wine from a Moscato.
Two drinks that appear similar on the surface, but that both have lots to define them from one another.
We hope you enjoy tasting your way through the flavours both wines have to offer.