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Moscato- New Cristal for Celebrities and Commoners

Posted: Tuesday, 24 April 2012 16:20

Moscato- New Cristal for Celebrities and Commoners

Apr 24 : After years of patronizing expensive champagnes, the rap-scene in the US seems to be shifting to the sweet Moscatos which many rappers are drinking and singing praises of, with an explosive growth of this sweet wine from Italy, California and other countries, whereas in India, despite the preference for sweetish wines, the consumption has shown only a small but steady growth.

 ‘The U.S economy is so bad that the rappers drinking premium champagne have switched over to the inexpensive Moscato from Gallo.’ This sounds like a rewind of Jay Leno’s commentary on the Today Show. But after years of Cristal guzzling by  the well known rapper by Jay-Z until he was subtly snubbed by the iconic producer when he shifted to Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades- both very expensive champagnes, there is news that rappers in the US are now shifting to the off-dry (slightly sweet) low alcohol wine made from Moscato, Moscatelle, Muscatel, Muscat or similar sounding names.

According to Nielsen figures as reported in Decanter, nearly 4m cases of Moscato were sold in the US last year but could be twice if on-trade  sales in bars and restaurants are also taken into account. This  represents a rise of more than 70% in both volume and value last year, which had shown a 100% increase over 2010. In fact, Moscato has now overtaken Sauvignon Blanc as the third most popular white grape in the US.

The Grammy Award winning rapper Kanye West may be talked about more for his affair with the Hollywood socialite and star of the TV reality show, Kim Kardashian, or his driving around in a  million dollar Mercedes SLR, but praises of  Moscato in his songs may still not make the big news. Similarly the 25-year old Canadian artist Drake and 37-year old Lil' Kim, the first female rapper to hit the #1 chart in 2005 are impressed with this wine.

An Atlanta-based rapper Wacka Flocka Flame raunchily declares in one of his hip-hop numbers: "I'ma sip my moscato and you gon’ lose them pants."

It is very aromatic and light-medium body wine with varying amounts of sweetness that has always been accepted as a wonderfully refreshing drink for the hot summer afternoons. Best Moscatos come from Italy; Moscato d’Asti from Piemonte has been in and out of fashion for several years and it looks like this is a period of its renaissance.

Moscato has won particular favour among younger consumers, with Nielsen estimating that more than half of the grape’s consumers are under 25.

Gallo is the clear market leader, with its Barefoot Moscato selling about 1.1m cases last year, ahead of Trinchero’s Sutter Home brand at just under 1m cases. Gallo will soon have 10 Moscato wines in its portfolios. Australia’s Yellow Tail Moscato is also predicted to shift more than 0.5m cases this year. Last year when their European Head of Marketing for Casella Wines, makers of Yellow Tails ,  Trevis Fuller who is  also a fellow judge at Mundusvini every year, intrigued me when he told me last year that theey would be xporting 300000 cases of sweet Moscato to the US last year and that there was a 1 million case demand for their US market. He had also commented that this was newly created demand generated by mostly women of 35-45 years age, an entirely new segment.

The trend is now poised to hit the UK, with a large number of new listings – both branded and supermarket private labels hitting the shelves this year. ‘I think we’ve been slow off the mark compared to the US,’ said Robert Joseph, co-founder of consumer research business DoILikeIt, and the Chairman of the now-suspended Indian Wine Challenge.  ‘But it’s coming in this spring in a big way.’ Robert said Moscato could also be boosted by the growing trend in UK for reduced alcohol wines.

In India, sweeter wines are quite popular with younger drinkers. One can see young men and women drink the Portuguese import Gazella for its sweetness with a slight tanginess on the tongue. Viña Esmeralda, an offering from Torres from Spain has been a regular feature on restaurant wine lists for years. Sumit Sehgal, Director of Prestige Wines and Spirits, a JV-Thapar JV importing Torres wines, says, ‘our customers are largey young men and women thought many older women also love the wine for its aromas and fuitiness with a touch of sugar. In fact, novices love this wine which is also of very good quality.

India does not have many rappers or wine drinkers for that matter, but if there were a consistent growth of both, you may bet your sweet moscato that they would perhaps be drinking a Moscato, not a Cristal.

Subhash Arora

For a related earlier article, pl visit:
Sweet Paradox from Yellow Tail


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