QUINCY, Ill. — Kanye West serves it at parties. Lil’ Kim sings about it. NeNe Leakes from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” even has her own brand of it. It’s Moscato, a sweet wine whose sales reportedly soared 73% over the last year.
Sales of Moscato doubled from 2010 to 2011 at Niemann Foods here, according to category manager Marty Miller.
Made from the Muscat grape, Moscato is a sparkling wine widely produced in the province of Asti, northwest Italy. Moscato made in this region has the “d’Asti” (from Asti) designation on the label. Non-sparkling Moscato varietals are also popular, and are produced around the world.
Niemann Foods has added dozens of new Moscato stockkeeping units over the last year. It currently merchandises about 30 brands of regular Moscato wine, plus an additional 15 of Moscato d’Asti.
Barefoot Cellars Moscato is Niemann’s No. 1 selling wine companywide. Other top-selling Moscato brands are Beringer, Yellow Tail, Sutter Home, Rex Goliath and Mirassou. The leading sparkling Moscatos are Luccio Moscato d’Asti, Barefoot Bubbly Moscato and Bartenura Moscato d’Asti.
Moscato has brought new consumers into the wine department, much like White Zinfandel did several years ago, said Miller.
“Moscato wine is an entry-level wine for mainstream consumers,” Miller said. “A lot of people that don’t like dry wine seem to enjoy this item.”
Indeed, Moscato has added incremental wine sales, said Stephanie Gallo, vice president of marketing for the Popular Business Unit at E. & J. Gallo Winery.
“There is a lot of enthusiasm for Moscato because many consumers prefer a sweeter, aromatic, lighter style of wine,” Gallo told SN. “Its flavor profile reveals what a new generation of wine consumers is looking for in wine.”
Gallo produces seven brands of Moscato, including Gallo Family Vineyards, Barefoot and Mirassou.
“If you want a taste of the next big trend, pour a glass of Moscato,” said Gallo.
Within the last two years, Jungle Jim’s International Market, Fairfield, Ohio, has increased the number of Moscato wine brands to 50, from 10, according to Todd Wiggs, fine wine manager. “It’s the hottest varietal going,” Wiggs said.
Many consumers like it because it’s so light, containing about 5.5% alcohol by volume, compared to 13.5% alcohol in traditional wine. This makes Moscato suitable as everything from an aperitif to a brunch or dessert wine.
A growing number of Jungle Jim’s shoppers specifically seek out Moscato d’Asti wines, which are sweet, yet do not contain added sugar.
“It’s soft and sweet with a little effervescence,” Wiggs said. “It’s a gateway into the world of fine wine.”
Some of Jungle Jim’s most popular sellers are La Spinetta, Elio Perrone and Vietta. Prices range from about $12.99 to $22.99.