Prosecco vs Moscato Compared: With Lovely Selections of Both!

Prosecco and Moscato wine look alike in appearance: both are white wines, with a pale to straw yellow appearance, and both are featured at celebrations. Perhaps that’s why they’re so often compared, and that’s why some people may get them mixed up.

And as it just so happens, both have been in the national news recently.

Moscato made headlines this summer from an unlikely source: Disney. Pineapple Dole Whip has long been a treat at Disney theme parks, but now Disney is offering a less kid-friendly option with a Frozacto.

The Frozcato may have a funky name, but it’s more or less how it sounds: Moscato, with a frozen, sweet twist. Dole Whip is combined with Moscato and vodka and nestled between two sugar cookies for a frozen ice cream sandwich with a delightful twist.

Of course, this Moscato infused treat isn’t available everywhere–it’s being sold exclusively at Wine Bar George, located in Disney World.

In a similar twist, Prosecco is featured along one of many innovative and luxurious ice cream flavors based in New York City. Except its not ice cream but an accompaniment, with a drink of prosecco filled with pop-flavored ice. That’s quite the way to finish off ice cream made with lobster or even topped with edible gold.

But innovative desserts aside, what’s the fuss over prosecco and Moscato? And when compared, is one better than the other for certain uses and occasions?

In this article, we’ll compare Prosecco vs Moscato and tell you everything you need to know to select the wine that’s most suited for you.

Why do so many people get Prosecco and Moscato mixed up?

The main reason why it’s hard to discern Prosecco and Moscato from one another is for two reasons: for one, they look very similar, and for another, they both fall under the same category of the type of wine.

  • Both are sparkling wines and both come as sweet wines, though Prosecco also can come as a dry wine.
  • Both are alike in appearance. Because they are sparkling wines, they have nice subtle carbonation and fine bubbles when your pour. They also are both a pale straw color, making them elegant and festive and at times hard to tell apart.

Since both Prosecco and Moscato are sweet sparkling white wines, there’s little mystery why people may not know how to select one over the other.

What is sparkling wine? 

First up, what exactly is a sparkling wine? At the risk of insulting someone’s intelligence, all sparkling wines contain carbonation. Sparkling wine is also known as bubbly and is usually used as a celebratory glass with dessert or after dinner.

High levels of carbon dioxide provide the carbonation and that fun fizzy texture as you drink. There are also semi-sparkling wines that have about half of the pressure of full sparkling wines and thus less carbonation.

Is sparkling wine and Champagne the same thing?

Yes and no. Sparkling wine and Champagne are sometimes named interchangeably, but Champagne is a form of sparkling wine, and there are other types of sparkling wine. In other words, Champagne, like Prosecco and Moscato is a type of sparkling wine.

Each different type of sparkling wine comes from a different region. Champagne comes only from a region in France, while most Prosecco and Moscato are Italian wines.

What is sparkling wine used for?

We’ve already mentioned that sparkling wine is often used for celebratory occasions and often for desserts and even for light appetizers. Sparkling wine is the perfect way to add a touch of lightness to any meal or dessert and a bit of whimsy. The carbonation lifts flavors and adds a nice finish to any meal without feeling overly heavy or cumbersome.

Sparkling wine can also work as a palate cleanser, helping you feel refreshed between say an appetizer and a main meal or between the main meal and a dessert tray. Of course, as we’ve seen, sparkling wine is also a natural pairing even in recipes if you want a boozy note to your sweeter desserts.

Is there a correct way to serve sparkling white wine?

Both Prosecco and Moscato should be served cold. Ideally, both sparkling wines should be chilled for at least thirty minutes prior to serving.

How you open the cork matters too. Instead of opening the cork as quickly as possible, you open it gently, so a slight ‘hiss’ emits as you open the bottle. If you open up sparkling wine too fast, it risks exploding all over the place. You want to keep the bottle intact, and of course, keep from making a big mess.

Before you open the wine, making sure to pat it dry with a towel. Then, remove the foil but make sure to keep the wire with the cork intact. As you open sparkling wine, to best preserve the bottles, you’ll want to tilt the bottle while keeping the cork straight.

Sparkling wine should be served within three days of opening; the bubbles die down sometimes even before that, though there are tools to help you keep your wine fresh for longer.

Do not add ice to sparkling wine, if it can be helped: water will dilute the wine, so you’re far better off first chilling it in a cooler.

What are the different categories of sparkling wine, and what do they mean?

 Besides just being separated into different categories based upon growing region, sparkling wines are also categorized by their level of sweetness:

  • Extra-Brut: Extra Brut is as dry of sparkling wine as you can get. Dry wine means it is more astringent, and next to no residual sugars are left after the fermentation process. This will be the most bitter.
  • Brut: This is also a dry sparkling wine, though not as dry as extra brut. It’s actually considered the most popular type of sparkling wine, perhaps partially because it is versatile. While it’s a dry wine, and suitable for appetizers and more savory notes, it also has a hint of sweetness that makes it enjoyable to drink. An example of a Brut wine is Champagne: it’s strong and pronounced, but just a hint of sweetness.
  • Extra Dry: Most Prosecco falls into this category, though there are sweeter versions of Prosecco as well. It has a more pronounced sweetness, though it is not overly sweet.
  • Demi-Sec: Demi-Sec sparkling wines have high sugar levels and are firmly in the dessert category. Moscato falls under this category most of the time.

The different sugar and alcohol levels impact not just the taste, but also where and how you’ll use it. Demi-Sec sparkling wines are known as dessert wines and are popular not just with full-on desserts but also with fruit. Extra Dry sparkling wines are best with some less overpowering desserts and with some more subdued desserts. Brut and Extra Brut sparkling wines are served with more savory plates, including not only appetizers but even with meals. In fact, sparkling wine can be paired with some seafood.

How do I go about comparing Prosecco vs Moscato?

 Is you want to start comparing the two wines, you need to consider them based upon some key criteria. Let’s take a look at how they compare, and when you might use each.

  • Acidity: Acidity impacts how tart wine tastes. The more acidic the wine, the more it will make your mouth pucker. As a general rule, sweetness tends to mellow out the acidity. White wines are more acidic generally then red wines. Sparkling wines tend to be higher in acidity overall than most wines, however. Prosecco has an acidity level of about 3.5, which is around average for white wine. Moscato is less acidic than Prosecco and considered to have low acid levels for white wines.
  • Body: Both Prosecco and Moscato are light-bodied; this is common for sparkling wines. That means that as your drink, it is light on your mouth. Light bodied wines, in general, tend to be a little less complex, but also a bit more refreshing.
  • Tannins: Tannins in wine are a naturally occurring compound that produces Tanins produce both bitterness and astringency and provide structure; the most common sources of tannins are wood and grapes. As a general rule, tannins in red wines are far higher in levels than tannins in white wines. In this category too, there is not a notable difference in tannin levels.
  • Origin: Both Prosecco and Moscato are Italian wines. Prosecco often comes from Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia and is never fermented in a bottle. It mostly comes from Glera grapes but can also contain up to fifteen percent of other grapes. Moscato comes mostly from Asti, which is Northwest Italy and is grown near soil rich in lime and sandstone. The grapes are crushed, then frozen before fermentation.
  • Flavor Profile: Of course flavors vary depending on the specific brand or variety, but Prosecco and Moscato do have different flavor profiles. Let’s look at the most common flavor notes:
    • Moscato is known to be especially sweet, light and fragrant. Common flavor notes include stone fruits like peaches and apricots but also citrus, including orange. Flower-infused flavors are braided into the fruity notes, with signature notes such as rose petals and elderflowers. Overall, Moscato is a very sweet, very fragrant floral sparkling wine.
    • Prosecco is a very fruity wine, but drier than Moscato, and by definition, less sweet. Flavor notes include green apple, honeydew melon, pear, and honeysuckle, all of which give the wine the illusion of tasting sweeter than it actually is.
  • Percent of alcohol: Moscato and Prosecco actually have notably different levels of alcohol. Moscato is very low in alcohol, at five and half percent and under. Prosecco, on the other hand, is nearly double that level in alcohol, and around ten to eleven percent.
  • What food do you pair Moscato and Prosecco with? Food with wine pairings can also help you enjoy wine the most–and it may make a big difference as to if you choose Moscato or Prosecco.
    • Moscato is best paired with fresh desserts, especially those featuring fruit or citrus. Berry desserts and berry salads, fruit cobblers, meringue pies, and fruit tarts are all natural complements. Some hot Thai and Korean dishes actually also work; the bright sweet notes of Moscato helps balance those hot flavors. Unknown to some, Moscato is even served with antipasto platters and cheese trays.
    • Prosecco actually is not as commonly served with dessert, though there are some sweet forms of Prosecco that can be. Most Prosecco pairs with a variety of appetizers and entrees. In fact, Prosecco, with its dry but deceptively sweet profile and subtle, pleasant flavors, is among the most versatile of sparkling wines. You can serve it with an earthy appetizer like stuffed or marinated mushrooms, heavier dishes like cream based entrees and even fried food, and snacks such as nuts and popcorn.

So, how do I choose between Moscato and Prosecco?

Now that we’ve covered the key similarities and differences between Moscato and Prosecco, let’s review and discuss some quick ways you can decide between the two types of sparkling wines.

  1. Do you prefer subtle fruit flavors or floral notes? If you don’t like more perfumed, fruity wines, than you’ll prefer Prosecco over Moscato and vise versa.
  2. What are you serving? With the exception of Thai food, Moscato is mostly served alongside desserts, while Prosecco is favored for appetizers and main courses.
  3. Does alcohol content matter? If for some reason you’re searching for a sparkling wine with lower alcohol content, Moscato has about half the alcohol that Prosecco does.
  4. What about the price? You can find affordable Prosecco and Moscato, though Prosecco you can find even cheaper because it doesn’t have the same fermentation process.

Do you have any suggestions for Prosecco and Moscato I can try? 

Whether you’ve decided that you’re more interested in Prosecco or Moscato, now let’s give you some suggestions to start with.

  • Santa Margherita Brut: This Prosecco offers bright citrus, stone fruit, citrus and a touch of melon. Though it features the signature bubbly carbonation, it also has an almost creamy, smooth finish. It has about eleven point five percent alcohol and is overall a bright and spirited bottle of wine.
  • Mionetto Sergio Extra Dry Prosecco: This extra dry Prosecco offers a touch of sweetness, with citrus and peach for a classic stone fruit taste. A bit of a mineral touch means that is pairs well with heavier foods, including calamari. It also adds crisp acidity for a bright, fresh punch.
  • Moletto 2008 Prosecco: Citrus and stone fruit make for another classic bottle of Prosecco with a wine that is known for its clarity and classic flavor notes. The surprising element of this bottle is the hint of peppermint, which adds a touch of whimsy to your glass. This is softer in terms of carbonation as well. Overall this is a pleasing, more simply classic bottle for a very affordable price.
  • 2015 Ruggeri “Vecchie Viti” Superiore Brut: This is a Prosecco that’s a bit richer and perfect both for entrees and for food around cooler months. Prosecco that is more rich and intense offers the best of both worlds. Just a touch of tannins is blended with both fruity and savory notes.
  • Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut – Terre di San Venanzio Fortunato: This Prosecco is great for appetizers, especially fish and mushrooms. It’s a classic fresh option with enough to it to hold up to more savory flavors. If you want a simple dry and versatile Prosecco, this may be a good option.
  • Paolo Saracco Moscato d’Asti: This is a great option for Moscato if you really love apricots as the main flavor note. Add to that strawberries, peaches and a pop of sweet honeysuckle and you have a fresh, very summery blend. It’s considered a more light and delicate sparkling wine. Think fresh summery desserts, like sorbets and fresh fruit to serve with this bottle.
  • Michele Chiarlo Nivole, Moscato d’Asti: This Moscato features a brilliant yellow straw hue and is especially known for its prominent floral notes. You’ll get stronger floral notes but also touches of those classic stone fruit flavors. Though it’s a fragrant wine, it is also smooth and presents with a more fine, fresh carbonation finish.
  • Catello Del Poggio Moscato: This Moscato has a deeper straw hue for a slightly more dramatic presentation. The first flavor notes feature peach, but also musk. You’ll get hints of white flowers and honey, making this yet another floral and summery wine. The level of minerality is low, and while it feels light on the mouth, it is also more structured than some light sparkling wines.

Further read:

Erin Jamieson

Erin Jamieson brings the latest information to you on wine flavors and types so you can enjoy your next glass to the fullest. In the past, she covered wine selections for weddings and engagement parties. She also previously worked with a private chef company to suggest the perfect wine pairings and believes there is a flavor for every occasion. Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio.

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