All wines made from this family of grapes are intensely fragrant, which apparently also attracts flies, for its name probably comes from the Latin “musca” for fly.
Muscats rank among the most ancient and well known families of grapes in the world. Its grapes are found throughout the Mediterranean in particular. The Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans took them along on their expeditions, but the grapes were probably grown long before then too.
Of this large family comprising over 200 varieties, the Muscat blanc à petits grains ronds is the most noteworthy. It produces wines with a captivating Muscat bouquet. Along the French Mediterranean coast it is used in the production of sweet fortified wines called vins doux naturels, also known as Muscat of Frontignan. In Italy it provides the base wine for Asti spumante, a sweet, floral-scented sparkling wine. Another member of the Muscat family is Muscat of Alexandria. This variety is just as ancient, but is of a lesser quality and is also grown for table grapes. It needs a hotter climate to produce higher yields and sugar content.
The third member of the family is Muscat Ottonel. This grape is a relatively young offspring. It is only 150 years old and comes from the Loire Valley. It has similar Muscat traits but is less perfumed. Muscat Ottonel is most widely planted in Austria.