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Riesling vs Moscato Wines (Sweet Wine Guide & Key Difference)

Riesling and Moscato are two wines that are on the sweeter side with Reisling being a white wine and Moscato being either white or rosé. So let’s compare Riesling vs Moscato:

Riesling, from Germany, balances fruitiness and acidity, offering dry to sweet options with mineral notes. Moscato, from Italy, is mainly sweet, with lower acidity and peach, and orange blossom flavors. Riesling is versatile in food pairing, while Moscato suits desserts.

Riesling and Moscato are two popular sweet wines in the fascinating world of wine that captivate the taste buds and delight the senses. With their unique flavors and enticing aromas, these wines have captured the hearts of wine lovers around the globe.

In this article, we’ll dive into the topic of “Riesling vs Moscato,” exploring the origins, characteristics, styles, and ideal food pairings for both wines, as well as comparing their alcohol content, aging potential, and price points.

So, let’s embark on this wine journey and discover what sets Riesling and Moscato wines apart.

Short Summary

  • Riesling and Moscato wines offer distinct origins, characteristics, styles, and flavor profiles to suit any preference.
  • Riesling has a higher alcohol content with an aging potential of up to 30+ years, while Moscato is best consumed young for a lighter experience.
  • Exploring varieties provides the opportunity to discover diverse flavors and sweetness levels in both types of wine.

Riesling Origin and Characteristics

Originating from Germany, Riesling is famous for its high acidity and unique flavors derived from riesling grapes, like:

  • pineapple
  • apple
  • apricot
  • pear

These flavors are reminiscent of tropical fruit. With its versatile nature, Riesling wines come in sweet, dry, and sparkling varieties, making sparkling Riesling a popular choice for celebrations and special occasions.

Riesling is classified according to five levels of ripeness.

  1. Kabinett: bone dry
  2. Spätlese: off-dry
  3. Auslese: medium-sweet
  4. Beerenauslese: sweet
  5. Trockenbeerenauslese: very sweet

With such a vast array of styles, there’s a Riesling wine to suit any taste preference, making it an excellent choice for wine lovers looking to explore the diverse world of sweet wines.

Moscato Origin and Characteristics

Hailing from Italy, Moscato grapes are characterized by their moderate acidity and distinct fruity flavor, with peach and citrus notes, making the finished product one of the popular sweet wines. Moscato d’Asti, often considered a dessert wine, is a type of Moscato with various other styles available.

Moscato, made from the muscat blanc grape, typically exhibits fruity notes such as peaches, apricots, Meyer lemon, nectarines, and mandarin orange, as well as floral qualities like orange blossom, honeysuckle, and elderflower, giving it a tropical fruit profile.

Unusual aromas of honey may also be present, adding to the allure of this sweet and aromatic wine made from Muscat grapes.

Riesling Vs Moscato: Key Differences

1. Sweetness – Which is Sweeter? Riesling or Moscato?

Riesling and Moscato wines come in various styles, each offering unique flavors and characteristics.

Riesling is available in sweet, dry, and sparkling styles, with the sweetness level depending on factors like vineyard location and fruit ripeness at harvest. On the other hand, Moscato styles range from the popular Moscato d’Asti to still and sparkling variations, each with its own distinct sweetness and flavor profile.

No matter your preference, there’s a Riesling or Moscato wine style to suit your taste buds and elevate your wine-drinking experience.

Riesling Wine Styles

Riesling wine styles can be categorized according to the ripeness of the grapes when harvested, with five levels to consider.

  1. Kabinett: bone dry
  2. Spätlese: off-dry
  3. Auslese: medium-sweet
  4. Beerenauslese: sweet
  5. Trockenbeerenauslese: very sweet

These levels offer a wide array of options for wine enthusiasts in the wine world.

Kabinett Riesling is typically dry or off-dry, Spätlese Riesling is richer and sweeter than Kabinett, and Auslese Riesling is hand-selected and very sweet. With such a diverse range of styles, Riesling wines cater to a variety of palates and preferences, making them a versatile choice for any wine lover.

Moscato Wine Styles

Moscato wine styles include the well-known Moscato d’Asti, a semi-sweet sparkling wine originating from the Italian region of Asti, as well as still and sparkling variations. The alcohol content for dry Moscato or dry Muscat can reach up to 14% ABV, providing a more potent experience for those who prefer less sweet wine.

With their unique sweetness and flavor profiles, Moscato wine styles offer a delightful array of options for wine enthusiasts to enjoy. Some popular Moscato wine styles include:

  • Moscato d’Asti: an effervescent and slightly sparkling wine with lower alcohol content
  • Still Moscato: a still wine with a range of sweetness levels, from semi-sweet to dessert-style
  • Sparkling Moscato: sparkling wine with a touch of sweetness

There’s a pink Moscato wine to satisfy any sweet tooth and elevate your wine journey.

2. Alcohol – Which Has a Higher Alcohol Content: Riesling or Moscato?

Riesling and Moscato wines differ in alcohol content and aging potential. Here are the key differences:

  • Riesling generally has a higher alcohol content of 8-9% ABV.
  • Riesling has better-aging potential and can age for 30+ years.
  • Moscato wines have a lower alcohol content of around 5.5% ABV.
  • Moscato wines are best consumed young, as they do not age well.

This difference in alcohol content and aging potential makes Riesling and Moscato wines suitable for different occasions and preferences, ensuring there’s a wine for everyone.

Riesling Alcohol Content and Aging Potential

Riesling wines have an alcohol content of 8-9% ABV, which is higher than that of Moscato wines. This higher alcohol content allows Riesling wines to age for an impressive 30+ years, making them a good investment choice for wine enthusiasts.

With their high acidity and unique flavor profiles, Riesling wines are known to age gracefully, developing complex flavors and aromas over time. This aging potential makes Riesling wines a worthwhile addition to any wine collection, as they can be enjoyed for decades to come.

Moscato Alcohol Content and Aging Potential

Moscato wines have alcohol levels of around 5.5% ABV, making them a lighter option compared to Riesling wines. Due to their lower alcohol content and higher sugar content, Moscato wines are best consumed young, as they do not age well.

But they can be perfect for first-time wine drinkers.

While Moscato wines may not possess the aging potential of Riesling wines, their refreshing sweetness and fruity characteristics make them a delightful choice for casual enjoyment or celebrations. With their lower alcohol content, Moscato wines are perfect for those who prefer a lighter, sweeter wine experience.

3. Perfect Food Pairings for Riesling and Moscato Wines

Riesling and Moscato wines pair well with different types of food, enhancing the flavors of various dishes.

Riesling is a good choice to combine with:

  • Spicy dishes
  • Light dishes
  • Seafood
  • Asian flavors

Due to its high acidity and fruity notes, it is a versatile wine for food pairings.

On the other hand, Moscato is best suited to desserts, fresh and herbal flavors, and soft cheeses, enhancing the sweetness and fruity characteristics of the wine.

Riesling Food Pairings

Riesling wine is a remarkably versatile wine that pairs admirably with a wide array of foods, especially spicy dishes. It is especially commendable with the following:

  • Smoked sausage
  • Hawaiian pizza
  • Spicy Indian food
  • Breaded shellfish
  • Pork schnitzel
  • Fish dishes
  • Light and salty cheeses such as Feta and Mozzarella

Drier Rieslings are optimal with fish, seafood, and white meat dishes, while sweeter Rieslings pair well with lightly spiced or fruitier cuisine.

With its high acidity and fruity notes, Riesling wine is an excellent choice for enhancing the flavors of various dishes, making it a go-to option for food pairings. Some examples of dishes that pair well with Riesling wine include:

  • Spicy Thai or Indian cuisine
  • Light seafood dishes, such as shrimp or scallops
  • Asian-inspired dishes, like sushi or stir-fry
  • Creamy pasta dishes, such as fettuccine Alfredo
  • Fresh salads with citrus or fruity dressings

No matter what you’re serving, Riesling wine is sure to elevate your dining experience.

Moscato Food Pairings

Moscato wine pairs well with a variety of foods, including:

  • Spicy foods
  • Thai salads
  • Salty dishes
  • Blue cheese
  • Pork tenderloin
  • BBQ pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Brie cheese

This sweet and fruity wine also pairs beautifully with desserts, fresh and herbal flavors, and soft cheeses, as these elements are known to bring out the wine’s sweetness and fruity characteristics, making it a popular choice among dessert wines.

Whether you’re indulgent in a decadent dessert or enjoying a refreshing salad with soft cheese, Moscato wine is the perfect accompaniment to enhance the flavors of your meal. With its sweet and fruity profile, Moscato wine is a delightful addition to any dining experience.

4. Price Points: Riesling vs Moscato

As a wine lover, it’s essential to consider the price points of Riesling and Moscato wines.

Moscato is generally more affordable than Riesling in the grocery store, making it an excellent choice for those on a budget or looking to try something new without breaking the bank.

However, it’s important to note that the price of Riesling and like Chardonnay, Moscato wines can vary significantly based on factors such as the producer, region, and vintage, so it’s always a good idea to explore different options and find the wine that best suits your taste and budget.

While Moscato wines may be more budget-friendly, Riesling wines offer a broader range of styles and flavors, as well as greater aging potential, making them a worthwhile investment for wine enthusiasts. Ultimately, the choice between Riesling and Moscato wines comes down to individual preference and budget, but rest assured that there’s a wine out there for everyone.

Top Riesling and Moscato Wine Recommendations

Discover top Riesling and Moscato wine recommendations to suit your taste preferences and enhance your wine-drinking experience.

For Riesling enthusiasts, some of the most acclaimed wines include:

  • Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese
  • Palmaz Louise Riesling 2017
  • Trimbach Riesling

These wines showcase the diverse range of styles and flavors that Riesling has to offer, from bone dry to lusciously sweet.

For Moscato lovers, notable wines to try include:

  • Castello del Poggio Moscato
  • La Marca Prosecco
  • Ruffino Moscato d’Asti

These Moscato wines exemplify the sweet, fruity flavors and sparkling effervescence that have made Moscato a favorite among wine enthusiasts.

Whether you prefer Riesling or Moscato, these top recommendations are sure to elevate your wine-drinking experience.


In this blog post, we’ve explored the fascinating world of Riesling and Moscato wines, delving into their origins, characteristics, styles, food pairings, alcohol content, aging potential, and price points.

As we’ve discovered, Riesling and Moscato wines offer a diverse range of flavors and styles to suit any palate, and both are sweeter wines, making them a delightful addition to any wine collection.

Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or just beginning your wine journey, Riesling and Moscato wines provide a captivating and delicious adventure, offering unique and enchanting experiences with every sip. So raise a glass and toast to the captivating world of Riesling and Moscato wines – cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Riesling sweeter than Moscato?

Riesling is generally less sweet than Moscato, as it can be made with peach, honey, citrus, apple, and pear flavors, and can vary in sweetness depending on the region.

What is the difference between Moscato and Riesling?

Moscato wines tend to be sweeter and contain more sugar than Riesling wines, which are known for their higher acidity and notes of pineapple, apple, apricot, and pear.

Is Riesling the sweetest?

Riesling is traditionally a sweet wine, but it is less sweet than Moscato. There are now also dry versions of Riesling available for those who prefer a less sweet taste.

Is Riesling a strong wine?

Riesling can be a strong wine, with alcohol content ranging from 8-14%. Its acidity levels give it a crisper and more tart taste while also allowing the wine to mature in its bottle for longer periods of time despite its low alcohol content.

This makes Riesling a great choice for those looking for a wine that can age and develop complexity over time. It also makes it a great choice for those looking for a good deal.

What are the different styles of Riesling and Moscato wines?

Riesling and Moscato wines come in different styles, each offering unique characteristics to suit various preferences.

Riesling wines are known for their versatility and can range from dry to sweet. Dry Rieslings have minimal residual sugar, providing a crisp and refreshing taste. Off-Dry Rieslings have a touch of sweetness, balancing the acidity and fruitiness. On the sweeter side, Sweet Rieslings exhibit luscious fruit flavors and are more dessert-like.

Moscato wines, on the other hand, are generally known for their sweetness and aromatic profile.

Still Moscato wines are non-sparkling and boast the characteristic fruity and floral notes. Sparkling Moscato, as the name suggests, has a delightful effervescence, adding a light and bubbly experience to the sweet flavors. These diverse styles cater to a wide array of wine enthusiasts, making both Riesling and Moscato wines popular choices for different occasions.

Palas Moscato D`asti wine closeup. by Nenad Stojkovic is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell