Muscat is the world's oldest known grape variety. It grows in Old World and New World regions alike. One of the earliest recorded Muscat wines hails from the port of Frontignan in southwest France. Actually, Muscat is a family of grapes with more than two hundred varieties. The grapes range from white to almost black, and the wines vary from fine and light — even sparkling — to deep, dark, and sweet. The following are the most familiar of the Muscat varieties:
Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Considered the noblest of the Muscats, it is responsible for the sweet, fortified Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise; for Italy's sparkling Asti; and for Clairette de Die. The grape is also known as Muscat Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Moscat d'Alsace, and Moscatelrosé, among others.
Muscat of Alexandria. This version dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Today Spain grows a lot of it — they call it Moscatel — and it is one of the three varieties permitted in making sherry. The grape also goes by Moscatel de Málaga, Moscatel, Moscatel Romano, Moscatel Gordo, and Gordo Blanc, among others.
Muscat Ottonel. The palest of all the Muscats, both in color and character, this grape can be found in dry and sweet wines originating from Alsace, Austria, Hungary, and Romania.
Muscat Hamburg. This Muscat is more of a table grape than a wine grape, but eastern European winemakers produce thin red wines from it.
With all the variations of Muscat, it's easy to assume Muscadine is one of them. But Muscadine is a grape family that's native to the southern United States. It's usually grown for use as table grapes, but some goes into limited quantities of wine.