This is the first in what we intend to be a recurring series designed to inform the novice drinker, and to help progress your journey to becoming a "Kahnoisseur." We will discuss wine, spirits, and beer and provide recommendations for your next step on the path to beverage enlightenment. If you're nervous to try something new or just stuck in a rut, we'll guide you in the right direction!
In this first edition, I will discuss what to drink if you like Moscato. I've found that Moscato drinkers can be timid about trying new things, and for good reason. There are WAY more dry wines out there than sweet wines and if you know you don't like dry wines at all, it can be scary to take a risk that you may buy a bottle you won't even want to finish once you open it.
If you like wines made from the Moscato grape (or Muscat depending on where it's grown), there's a good chance that you will like some (but probably not all) Rieslings. Riesling is a versatile grape that can be made into wine that runs the full gamut of super sweet to bone dry, so you'll want to consult with your friendly Kahn's staff to find one that will work for your palate.
German winemakers utilize a handy scale called the "Prädikat" system to determine the ripeness of their grapes at harvest, which can be a good indicator of the sweetness level. However, what the winemaker does after the harvest can significantly affect the finished product. The main designations are as follows:
Kabinett: These are fully ripened light wines from the main harvest, typically semi-sweet with crisp acidity, but can be dry if designated so.
Spätlese: These are typically semi-sweet, often (but not always) sweeter and fruitier than Kabinett. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper. Spätlese can be a relatively full-bodied dry wine if designated so. While Spätlese literally means late harves, the wine is not as sweet as a ndessert wine, as the "late harvest" term is often used in American wines.
Auslese: These wines are made from very ripe, hand selected bunches, typically semi-sweet or sweet. Sometimes Auslese is also made into a powerful dry wine. Auslese is the Prädikat which covers the widest range of wine styles, since it can be made into a dessert wine or a very dry wine.
Since these Rieslings can very drastically depending on what the winemaker chooses to do with the harvest, I like to remember this great mnemonic device: "High and Dry, Sweet and Low." This refers to the alcohol content of the wine in comparison with the sweetness. If the alcohol content is relatively high (14% for Auslese, 12.5% Spätlese, or 11% for for Kabinett) then the wine will be dry. If the alcohol content is low, it will generally have more sweetness.
Therefore, fans of Moscato will want to start with a Spätlese or Auslese in the 8-9% range. Here are a few recommendations:
Schlink Haus Spätlese (9%): A delightfully fruity, yet harmoniously balanced wine made of fully ripened grapes. This late-harvested wine features rich and ripe fruit flavors with a light sweetness.
Schlink Haus Auslese (8%): Harvested from select, very ripe bunches of grapes at the peak of maturity. This is a luxurious, sweet, and full bodied wine with a fragrant, noble, and fruity aroma.
St. Christopher Piesporter Michelsberg Spätlese (7.5%): This wine has a floral aroma, with lots of apple and peach fruit flavors. A very balanced wine.
St. Christopher Piesporter Michelsberg Auslese (8.5%): A wonderfully enjoyable sweet wine loaded with attractive peachy fruit. Pineapple and citrus notes keep the sweetness in check, with enough acidity to give it character.
Remember, wine is all about having fun! Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. Find what you like but don't be satisfied in just drinking that one thing. Continue to evolve and you just might find you enjoy something you'd never imagine you would have before!