Figuring out how to embrace pop culture becomes tricky after you reach a certain age. Once someone starts calling you Mommy, its hard to pull off fashions and trends championed by icons closer to their age than your own.
Culture creep is pervasive, however. Those day-glow yellow shoes start to look cool when every runner pounding a downtown Raleigh sidewalk is wearing them. Read OMG and IMHO on your Facebook feed and before you know it youll be slipping WTH? into your texts. And dont even get me started on that Lumineers song (love it!). So while I remain vigilantly opposed to and perplexed by the staying power of such phenomena as Go-Gurt, Uggs and Guy Fieri, I have decided resistance to some trends is futile. Among those is the insatiable American thirst for Moscato.
I know Im a couple of years behind the curve here. If youve read anything about this trend or got on the Moscato train when it first rolled out of the station you know culture watchers credit hip-hop star Drake for blowing it up when he rapped about it in 2009.
Pretty soon it was everywhere. U.S. Moscato sales doubled in 2010 and have been going up since. California vineyards began planting muscat grapes like mad. Just about every major wine label put a version on the shelf. And last February, Wine Spectator deemed Moscato the third most popular white wine in American. Millennials love it.
But its the near-apoplectic response of the fine wine establishment to the Moscato craze that makes it truly fun to watch. The standard refrain of respected wine bloggers: Once these kids grow up and get tired of this sweet stuff, theyll see the error of their ways and start drinking real wine. Or Its a gateway wine. Just Google Moscato and gateway and see if you dont get 58,000 hits.
At the top of the results youll find a recent NPR piece that focused on the connection between Moscato, pop culture and race. While not everyone agrees with its conclusions, the piece raises the valid point that maybe sweet wines like Moscato can no longer be dismissed as merely entrées to a deeper, more fully realized wine life, but are actually what people want to drink at any age, at any sophistication level.
If you consider the Moscato craze alongside every other fast-paced societal change of the past five to 10 years, its completely possible that its not a craze at all, but that sweet is the new normal. Maybe this blossoming generation will entirely reject the taste standards set by the baby boomers and decide that what they like is good.
Sure, I agree with the wine establishment that most of the Moscato on the shelves is hastily produced stuff full of residual sugar that doesnt measure up to the well-made Moscato dAsti from Italys Piedmont. But what fun is it to sit on the sidelines staring sourly through an unoaked chardonnay while everyone else at the lawn party is sipping sweet and fizzy?
As I said up top, though, pulling off the latest fashion trend isnt always easy. Drinking from a bottle covered in shiny polka dots and called Sequin feels a little too much like trying to shop at Forever 21 I know Im too old for it. A Moscato cocktail would be a better fit, so I created one.
You could serve it in a wine glass, but a rocks glass or a tumbler lends it some heft. If you use Campari, a bitter orange Italian liqueur, you get a bit of bright red color, too, which helps everyone look more like a grownup.
Amber Nimocks is a former News & Observer food editor. Reach her at amberwrites.com.
To see a printable version of the recipe, click on the link below:
FILL a rocks glass with ice. Add lime and orange juice. Fill almost to the top with Moscato. Add a healthy dash of bitters or a splash of Campari. Give it a swirl. Sip with authority. Yield: 1 cocktail