Prosecco vs Moscato: What’s the Difference? [Detailed Guide]
Prosecco and Moscato are both sparkling white wine wines from Italy, but there are key differences between these two fantastic wines that make them very distinct from one another.
For starters, they come from different grapes with very different characteristics.
Most of us are familiar with Prosecco's dry, fruity freshness and how it cleanses the palate with tingly acidity. Moscato is a sweet sparkling wine with less acidity, although the flavor profile (apple, pear, melon, honeydew) can be similar.
To put it another way, if you love Prosecco but want something sweeter, Moscato ticks the box and won't leave you yearning for Italy's favorite bubbly.
In this guide we cover the differences and also similarities between Prosecco and Moscato with insights into their origins, growing regions, and winemaking processes.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Tasting Notes Compared
Prosecco is a sparkling white wine with light bubbles, usually dry or extra dry, with apple, sliced pear, citrus, honeydew, and melon notes.
The mouthfeel is light and refreshing, with tingly acidity for a zingy finish. Although dry, Prosecco's sweet green fruit and honey flavors give it excellent balance, which is one of the key reasons behind its approachability.
Moscato offers a different tasting experience. It is sweet, with orange blossom, pear, melon, peach, and honeydew flavors, with lower acidity than Prosecco. Moscato pairs brilliantly with spicy foods thanks to its sweetness.
You can tell Moscato from Prosecco wine by its sweetness and aromatic flavors of orange, peach, and Meyer lemon in the DOCG sparkling white Moscato d'Asti. Moscato has a more complex flavor profile, but Prosecco is crisper.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Aroma
Prosecco has an apple and pear nose with notes of melon and hazelnut, bordering on tropical in Frizzante (semi-sparkling) varieties. Letting it air develops green fruit notes and brings out aromatic honey notes.
Moscato has a much more pronounced nose, with Moscato d'Asti having one of the most aromatic bouquets of any Italian wine.
You can expect mandarin orange, Meyer lemon, pear, green apple, and stone fruit aromas, with Cinnamon notes in wines from northernmost regions.
Prosecco and Moscato have a sweet aroma, but unlike Moscato, which is sweet to the taste, Prosecco is dry, giving it a balanced profile.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Color
Moscato is amber gold with elegant, fine bubbles, while Prosecco is light gold with larger bubbles. The colors can be similar when grapes are from the same region, but Prosecco is a lighter wine with more effervescence.
The creamy hue of Prosecco is also unmistakable against Champagne, which is darker with more bubbles. Frizzante Prosecco is lighter still.
You can also get pink Prosecco and Moscato. Pink Prosecco is a blend of the white grape Glera (used for white Prosecco) and 10% to 15% Pinot Noir, while pink Moscato is a blend of the Muscat grape and 5% to 10% Merlot.
Prosecco vs. Moscato: Alcohol Content
Moscato is lower in alcohol than Prosecco. While Prosecco has an ABV between 10.5% and 12.5%, Moscato is between 5% and 7%.
This is expected from a sweet wine because, during the winemaking process, the sugar turns into alcohol. Moscato is sweet because less sugar is turned into alcohol, so it has more residual sugar (this also makes it higher in calories).
The low alcohol percentage makes Moscato a light-bodied wine, but it has more texture than Prosecco due to the high sugar.
Prosecco vs. Moscato: Sweetness/Dryness
Sweetness is the biggest differentiator between the two wines.
In short, Prosecco is dry, and Moscato is sweet. Moscato contains more than twice as much sugar as Prosecco, which is natural from the Muscat grape.
Muscat also has sweet flavors, so the profile is sweet all the way through, and Prosecco has sweet and sour flavors with a dry profile.
You can also get Prosecco in extra dry and 'Brut' varieties, with Brut containing up to 12g of residual sugar per liter (for reference: that's not much).
Due to its low residual sugar content, Brut Prosecco has one of the lowest calories of any wine, with around 60 kcal per glass. Don't be fooled by 'extra dry' wine – it contains more sugar than Brut.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Acidity
Prosecco is much more acidic than Moscato. The acidity levels for Prosecco are around 3.5%, while they are less than 1.5% for Moscato because Prosecco contains far less sugar, so we can expect more acidity.
For reference, Champagne and Cava are more acidic than Prosecco, so it is not the most acidic sparkling white wine you can drink.
Prosecco is more refreshing with greater acidity than Moscato, helping cut through fats and cleanse the palate.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Body
Although a higher alcohol content in wine usually means a fuller body, the opposite is true when comparing Prosecco and Moscato.
Though both sparkling wines are light-bodied, Moscato feels fuller due to the residual sugar, which coats the palate and lingers. The fine bubbles persist longer, giving the impression of a denser wine.
Most people prefer the lightness of Prosecco, but don't discount Moscato – it has a grippy texture that brings out the orange blossom notes.
Prosecco vs. Moscato: How They're Served
Prosecco and Moscato benefit from low serving temperatures between 42 and 45℉ (5.5-7.5°C). These temperatures are cold enough to make both wines refreshing without taking away their fruity and floral flavors.
You can use a standard wine glass for either wine, but Champagne glasses and flutes work best because they have a rim that stops the bubbles from escaping. Additionally, a narrow glass helps to lock in the flavors and keep the wine cold.
Prosecco vs Moscato: History
Moscato comes from the Muscat grape, the world's oldest known wine grape variety. Historians believe the grape originated in Ancient Greece or the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, finding its way to Italy in Roman times.
Today, there are over 200 varieties of the Muscat grape. Moscato sparkling wine comes from Muscat Blanc, which also produces Asti Spumante, and the French wines Clairette de Die and Beaumes de Venise.
Although the Muscat grape is grown worldwide, Moscato sparkling wine is a product of Italy. It is produced mainly in the province of Asti, northwest Italy, with the most coveted wines labeled Moscato d'Asti with DOCG appellation.
Despite its ancient roots, modern production of Moscato d'Asti began in the 1870s, so this is a relatively modern wine by global standards.
Prosecco gets its name from the Northern Italian region of Prosecco, documented as far back as 200 BC as "Puccino." The first mention of the name "Prosecco" is in a poem from 1754 by Aureliano Acanti.
Thus, Prosecco is an older wine than Moscato, but the Glera grape is a newer species than Muscat. Who said history is simple?
The heartland of Prosecco wine is Veneto, with documents linking Glera vineyards to the region in 1772. In 2009, Prosecco grapes were renamed Glera grapes as part of the creation of the Prosecco DOC, which holds exclusive naming rights.
For a wine to be named/labeled 'Prosecco,' it must come from the Prosecco DOC, much like Champagne must come from Champagne.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Popularity
Prosecco is significantly more popular than Moscato for a few reasons. Firstly, Prosecco is heavily marketed in the US and Europe as a lighter, cheaper alternative to Champagne, while Moscato is rarely marketed and not well known.
Prosecco production also outstrips Moscato's, so you can find it in more stores, especially supermarkets and liquor shops.
Moscato is considered a left-field wine – chosen by wine enthusiasts who are in the know about its characteristics and qualities.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Grapes
The Glera grape is a green-skinned grape produced exclusively in Italy. It thrives in cool regions, particularly Veneto and Friuli, with a harvest season between the end of September and early October, when the grapes reach maturity.
Prosecco without DOCG appellation usually uses machine-harvested grapes, with hand harvesting reserved for Prosecco DOCG. Some DOCG regulations require hand harvesting to ensure the quality of the grapes.
The Muscat Blanc grape is a green to yellow-skinned grape produced in Italy, France, Austria, Spain, and Greece. Italian and French Muscat is considered the pure grape expression, preserving its floral flavors.
The finest Muscat grapes produce Moscato d'Asti DOCG, a beautiful golden dessert wine produced in the province of Asti, northwest Italy.
Prosecco vs. Moscato: Growing Regions
While the Prosecco grape (Glera) is grown exclusively in Italy, the Muscat Blanc grape is grown worldwide in warm and cool climates.
We’ll start with Prosecco’s history. Most Prosecco is from the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia Regions of Northwest Italy. Production concentrates around Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the hills north of Treviso.
Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia have temperate sub-continental climates, and the presence of the Alps and sea helps maintain a cool temperature.
Most Muscat Blanc comes from Italy, mainly Asti, and in smaller nearby regions in the provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo. It is not produced on the same scale as Prosecco, taking best to Mediterranean climates with dry heat.
Another key growing region for Muscat Blanc is France, with French winemakers calling the grape Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. It is mostly grown in the Rhone Valley and the Vosges in Alsace, which has a Continental climate.
The most surprising region for Moscato is Austria, where the grape is called Gelber Muskateller. Austrian Moscato is soft yellow, aromatic, and fresh, with more acidity than Italian and French varieties.
Prosecco vs Moscato: Winemaking Process
Prosecco and Moscato follow a similar winemaking process. The critical difference is that Moscato has one fermentation, and Prosecco has two.
The basic formula is yeast + sugar = alcohol + carbon dioxide, but there are differences in fermentation and grape handling.
Winemakers use the Charmat (Metodo Italiano) method to produce Prosecco, where the bubbles form within enormous stainless steel tanks during fermentation.
Charmat is the same process used for Champagne, so these two competing tipples come from the same process. The Glera grapes are traditionally pressed with gentle force with clusters intact, helping preserve their delicate flavors.
Moscato is made with the Asti method, where the grape juice is rapidly cooled, and fermentation is stopped early to retain sweetness and high sugar content. Carbonation develops in the tank with no secondary fermentation.
The additional fermentation step for Prosecco converts more sugar into alcohol, making it higher in alcohol but lower in sugar than Moscato.
Winemakers can change the sugar content of both wines by increasing the fermentation length. The typical fermentation period for Moscato is 30-45 days, while Prosecco can see up to 90 days to develop stronger acidity.
Prosecco vs. Moscato: Food Pairings
Prosecco is best with fresh cheeses, cured meats, pastries, shellfish, herby chicken dishes, risotto, and pasta with white sauce. It pairs beautifully with creamy dishes and has enough bite for barbeque chicken and grilled meats.
Moscato is sweet, so the logical food pairing is spicy food like Thai noodles, jerk chicken, beef nachos, and spicy prawn linguine. The floral notes also work well with salty cheeses like halloumi, blue cheese, feta, and Edam.
The great thing about both wines is they go perfectly with nachos, potato chips, dips, carrot sticks, sweet bites, and other finger foods.
We recommend having a bottle of both on your dinner table and letting people taste both – you just never know which one someone will prefer.
Prosecco and Moscato are different takes on Italian sparkling white wine. Here's a summary of the differences and similarities in this article:
- Both wines are Italian.
- Both wines are sparkling.
- Moscato is sweet; Prosecco is dry.
- Prosecco is higher in alcohol.
- Prosecco is more acidic.
- Prosecco is also available in Frizzante (semi-sparkling).
- Muscat is an older grape than Glera.
- Prosecco is made from Glera grapes in the Charmat method.
- Moscato is made from Muscat Blanc grapes in the Asti method.
- Prosecco has apple, sliced pear, citrus, honeydew, and melon notes.
- Moscato has orange blossom, pear, melon, peach, and honeydew notes.
- Muscat Blanc is a global grape; Prosecco (Glera) is grown exclusively in Italy.
- Prosecco is much more popular than Moscato due to its higher production.
- Both wines pair well with salty snacks, but Prosecco is best with herby, light dishes, while Moscato is best with spicy dishes.
Which wine you prefer will probably come down to whether you have a sweet tooth – if you do, Moscato is the undisputed champion.
However, Prosecco is so balanced and refreshing that it is the better option for most food pairings. For this reason, our vote goes to Prosecco.