Sunday, September 4, 2011

[yellow tail] Moscato

Moscato. "Serious" wine drinkers (me included) make fun of it. Moscato is a varietal, easy to grow, easy to make into a lightly sweet white wine. When moscato is vinified, it's stylistically a rather simple drink, almost always with that sweet taste. Recent studies have shown that most people's palates prefer sweet flavors to bitter or astringent ones, therefore a wine made from moscato would be something that a lot of people would prefer, right? The folks at W.J. Deutch & Sons think so and have begun importing a moscato from [yellow tail] into the United States.

Perhaps we shouldn't make fun of moscato. The moscato grape is now the fastest growing varietal in the United States. AC Nielsen reports that the moscato category has jumped an astounding 96.2% in sales volume from last year's. Whole vineyards are being ripped up all throughout California's bulk-wine producing Central Valley, and guess what they're being replanted with? Sure the logic might be a bit faulty, since those moscato vines won't produce viable fruit for 4-6 years and by then tastes may change, but the point is clear.

Enter Yellowtail, or [yellow tail]. The original "critter wine", a $5 shiraz that almost single handedly redefined both a varietal and a wine market. A wine that introduced millions of new wine drinkers to red wine. This is their Moscato. Similar in style, eerily similar to low-priced moscato from Asti, Italy. Those are known as Moscato d'Asti or Asti Spumante. A wine like this [yellow tail] appeals to a giant swath of the population looking for a fun, easy to drink beverage that still carries the "wine" designation yet isn't expensive, complex, pretentious, or hard to drink.

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Yellowtail advertises their moscato as: "Lil' Sweet. Lil' Fizzy" and that is certainly the case here. Ripe peaches and fizz define the smell and the taste. I picked up a hint of something tropical, like mango juice, as well, further sweetening up the [yellow tail] moscato to the point where it was a bit overwhelming. As someone who enjoys dry sparkling wine, I couldn't drink a full glass of this on it's own. This isn't a dessert wine though, so it doesn't reek of residual sugar the way a late harvest riesling might.

What did happen was inspiration, because I think the Yellow Tail moscato is perfect for cocktails. Mix it with a citrus based soda and some vodka, add two drops of bitters, and enjoy. Another recipe is to use just the moscato, some frozen, blended peach, and a couple of ounces of light rum. Still one more is to just do the moscato and vodka, with a lemon twist. That's called a "Moscatini"The point is to experiment and find recipes that work.

I'm not trying to sound like this [yellow tail] moscato is undrinkable! Just for my palate, it's something I'd avoid, along with 99% of all moscato. Add to that my hesitation at even considering the [yellow tail] brand, and it's hard to recommend this as a summer sipper. Why then did I accept this sample? Professional curiosity, the chance to taste something new, and the desire to experiment with wine cocktails.

Sure, the price is good, $6.99 for a 750ml bottle, and throughout it's existence, Yellowtail has always been very affordable. What it's lacked is identity, uniqueness, a sense of place. Admittedly those are hard when your wines cost $5.49 at Trader Joe's, and I am taking the low price into account.

With that in mind, if you are looking to drink (or serve) a light, airy, slightly sweet wine, this might be a wise choice. You get name recognition from your guests (or yourself), solid quality, and an easily quaffable wine. All for a real-world price of around $5. Hard to ask for more at that price point. As they say in the land of Oz, good on ya', [yellow tail].

This wine was a media sample for review purposes.

Beau Carufel


  1. Beau,
    What a great post, specifically your cocktail suggestions. At such a low price, this wine would be a great mixer and it'd go far. I will be trying this as the summer weather lasts I'm not really a sweet, white drinker, but I know many people who are and would love to see something both inexpensive and in tune with their tastes. Thanks for the post!

  2. This site has a lot of very helpful information on it. Cheers for helping me.

  3. This sounds like a Moscato i would very much like.

  4. I love this wine. Especially with fruit,but for a romantic night try

  5. I REALLY like this wine! I purchased my first bottle this past week, and was pleasantly surprised by the taste. Not too sweet as most Mosacto's can be, and very light, fruiting, and soft as I prefer for a white, fruity type of wine. Oh, and the fizz really does it for me. I say put the bottle on ice, and serve nice and chilled, you and your guest will love it!!