the Muscat grape
Or: The Little Grape that Could

It was referred to by Pliny the Elder as uva apiana, or "Grape of the Bees." It has been cultivated and harvested in the Mediterranean region for more than 3,000 years, and some wine historians would go so far as to say it was the first grape to evolve. Others go further, claiming it was the first grape to be used in winemaking. Regardless of all this, the hundreds of varieties of the Muscat grape have been favored for thousands of years for many purposes, whether it be eaten out of hand fresh, nibbled on as raisins, or drank in the form of a fine wine.

As noted above, a Muscat grape can be one of any variety, from white grapes to black grapes, in the Muscat family. The grapes are characterized not only by their sweetness, but strong spicy, earthy, and floral notes, or in other words, a "musky" aroma. They grow best in temperate climates such as California, France, Greece, Italy, and Spain, though they are not limited to these regions.

Pliny's remark about them being the "Grape of the Bee" is quite accurate. Insects are uncontrollably attracted to the powerful odor created by vines upon vines of Muscat grapes, and they have a tendency to rot slightly on the vine, developing a very soft skin. This, and their high sugar content, leads to them being quickly devoured by bees and wasps alike.

Most accounts have the Muscat grape originally becoming popular in Greece, eventually being brought to Italy. It thrived there, and several varietals of Muscat are still very prominent in the country's many vineyards. From there, they spread out to France and other parts of Europe, and then on to the rest of the world. The exact path in which the Muscat family travelled over several millenia isn't known in detail, and there are many conflicting theories on how certain strains ended up in certain parts of the world. Regardless, the grape has had quite the colorful past.

Despite the fact that Muscat grapes exist in nearly 200 permutations, only a few are considered suitable for vinification. Often, these several possess dozens of aliases due to the various regions and styles in which they are grown and vinted. Though it is not surprising, it's typical that the more popular a type of Muscat is, and the more regions it's grown in worldwide, the more aliases it has. The following is a list of the most utilizied species of Muscat grapes, along with what they are commonly called. Although some of these grapes are nodeshells currently, rest assured they won't be in the near future, and each will host a sort of detailed dossier on these delectable subjects

  • Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, also known as...
    • Brown Muscat
    • Muscat Blanc
    • Muscat Canelli
    • Muscat Lunel
    • Muscat Frontignan
    • Muscat de Frontignan
    • Moscato Bianco
    • Muscat d'Alsace
    • Muskateller
    • Muscatel de Grano Menudo
    • Muscadel
    • Moscatel Rosé
  • Muscat of Alexandria, also known as...
    • Moscatel Romano
    • Moscatel de Málaga
    • Gordo Blanco
    • Hanepoot
    • Lexia
    • Moscatel
    • Moscatel Gordo
    • Zibibbo
  • Muscat Ottonel, also known as...
    • Muskatoly
    • Muskat Ottonel
    • Muscadel Ottonel
  • Muscat Hamburg, also known as...
    • Black Muscat
    • Black Hamburg
    • Moscato di Amburgo
  • Orange Muscat, also known as...
    • Moscato Fior d'Arancio
  • Aleatico, also known as...
    • Agliano
    • Allianico
    • Moscatello
    • Muscateller
  • Malvasia Bianca, also known as...
    • Moscato Greco
    • Greek Muscat


Sources

  • http://eat.epicurious.com/
  • http://www.aboutwines.com/
  • http://www.cookeryonline.com/
  • http://www.winespectator.com/


Many thanks go out to Imprecation for giving me the push down a flight of stairs necessary to go back and revamp this node. Merci beaucoup, monsieur. I hoist this glass of vin de glacière to toast you!

Mus"cat (?), n. [F. See Muscadel.] Bot.

A name given to several varieties of Old World grapes, differing in color, size, etc., but all having a somewhat musky flavor. The muscat of Alexandria is a large oval grape of a pale amber color.

[Written also muskat.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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