Riesling Vs. Moscato | What’s The Difference?

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If you are a newbie in the world of wine, it’s normal to need clarification on wines just by their looks. The world of wines is complex, and each wine comes with its unique flavor. 

Riesling Vs. Moscato

But some famous wines like the Riesling and Moscato are admired for their sweetness. Thus, people tend to get confused between them. Does that mean they are the same?

Riesling and Moscato have long been the best choice for beginners for their sweet taste. However, there’s a lot of difference between the two. They differ in their origin, taste, characteristics, alcohol content, price, food pairings, and more.

There’s a lot that goes beyond the attractive labels of wines that you must understand. This article will help you to distinguish between Riesling and Moscato.

Riesling Vs. Moscato | Difference Table

Basis Of DifferenceRieslingMoscato
Origin/ NativeGermanyItaly
AppearancePale straw to yellow.Its most common version has a color that is slightly sparkling.
Aroma Fruity smell of lemons, limestone fruits like nectarine, and if aged then petrol too.Fruity smell of orange blossoms, peaches, and tropical fruits.
SweetnessIt comes in a range of styles. While Riesling comes on sweeter side of spectrum, you can also find it on the dry side.This wine falls on the sweet side. It is perfect if you are looking for a sweet wine specifically.
AlcoholIt comes with comparatively high ABV of nearly 12%.It is sweet and has a low ABV of 5-7%.
Food PairingsIt goes well with fatty/greasy foods like ham, pork, and fried foods like poultry, fish, and vegetables as well.It goes well with spicy foods like Mexican food, Indian food, and Thai cuisine.
Ageing PotentialIt can age for a longer period then the Moscato wine.This wine does not age well, especially not the fizzy versions like Moscato d’Asti.

What Is Riesling Wine?

Riesling Vs. Moscato

Riesling is one of the most collectible white wines among top connoisseurs around the world. This wine is produced from the grape variety of the same name. 

These grapes thrive in cooler climates like Germany, Washington State, and New York. It has an appealing fruity aroma of orchard fruits like nectarine, apricot, honey-crisp apple, and pear. 

Riesling has a high acidity. To balance this characteristic, most Riesling wines are on the sweeter end of the spectrum. But nowadays, you can also find dry Riesling, which is not so sweet, for those who prefer a leaner-tasting wine.

What is Moscato Wine?


Moscato is a sweet, medium to low-acidity wine produced in Italy. It is made using Muscat grapes. This wine can be still, sparkling, or fortified. It is a sweeter-tasting wine than Riesling. 

Moscato has a fragrant aroma of fruit such as peach, apricot, and orangey citrus. It also has delicate floral notes such as rose petals and elderflowers.

Riesling Vs. Moscato | What Are The Major Differences?

Riesling Vs. Moscato

Even though many wine drinkers might be unable to differentiate Moscato from Riesling, they are definitely not the same. Let’s find out the key differences between both wines.

1. Flavor

Before we get to the flavor profile of Riesling and Moscato wine, let’s first understand how they are made. Both wines are made from entirely different grapes. 

While Moscato comes from the green-skinned Muscat Blanc grape, Riesling, on the other hand, comes from the Riesling grape grown far and wide. This grape variety is less sweet than Moscato.

Thus, with the difference in the grape varieties used to make the wine, it is obvious that the flavor of each wine will differ.

While both wines have a striking fruity aroma, there lies a significant difference in their sweetness. Riesling is sweet, but Moscato is sweeter.

With its moderate acidity, Moscato wines are rich and sweet and have fruity flavors of peach with citrus notes. Meanwhile, Riesling’s high acidity and flavors of pineapple, apple, apricot, and pear make it less sweet.  

If you have to pick one between the two, Riesling will make a good choice for people who have become accustomed to drinking sweet wines. 

But Moscato, with its fresh and light flavors, is regarded as the ideal choice for first-time wine drinkers. The best thing about Moscato is that it will still taste light and fresh, whether it is sweet or dry. 

2. Wine Styles

Riesling and Moscato are both considered to be sweet wines, but with the difference in their production style, they both come in dry and sweet types. 

Riesling wine styles include sweet Riesling, off-dry Riesling, dry Riesling, and sparkling Riesling. Similarly, Moscato is classified into white, red, pink, sparkling, and dessert categories.

Here is a quick guide to identifying the varieties of each wine and their sweetness levels in order of sweetness:

  • Dessert Moscato – It is one of the sweetest wines you can buy. It contains around 100 grams of residual sugar per liter. As its name suggests, it is normally served with a dessert course.
  • Sweet Riesling – It is highly admired by wine connoisseurs. The sweet flavor is perfectly balanced to give a light, refreshing feel with complex taste notes.
  • White Moscato – This wine is made from a blend of the Muscat Blanc grape and other Moscato grape varieties. Although it is not as sweet as its dessert counterpart, it is still much sweeter than most white wines.
  • Red Moscato – This is an unusual sweet red wine with a dark fruity taste and spicy and floral flavor notes.
  • Pink Moscato – This Moscato variety is a rosé-style sweet wine. It contains flavors of red berries. It is slightly fizzy and has a floral aroma.
  • Sparkling Moscato – It is slightly sweeter than most other sparkling wines, although drier than white Moscato.
  • Sparkling Riesling – This wine is a semi-sweet fizzy wine.
  • Off-Dry Riesling – This wine has a very subtle sweetness and moderate acidity levels.
  • Dry Riesling – This Riesling variety has a dry and complex flavor that completely contrasts with sweet Riesling. It is normally matured for several years.

3. Acidity

Before buying a bottle of wine, checking its acidity should be its top priority as it is a major contributing factor to the flavor of wine, especially in the case of sweet wines.

Riesling has a relatively high acidity that balances the sweetness of the wine. A high acidity means that the sweetness of this wine will not be overwhelming.

In comparison, Moscato wines have moderate acidity levels. This allows the sweetness to shine through. This makes Moscato more palatable for first-time wine drinkers.

4. Aroma

A wine-drinking experience begins with the scent of the wine that hits us first before taking a sip. This aroma contributes to the overall flavor of the wine.

Riesling and Moscato share a similar floral profile of rose and white flowers. It also carries the scent of orchard fruits such as apricot, apple, pear, and nectarine. You may also be able to smell sweeter notes, such as honeycomb and jasmine, and a hint of citrus.

Interestingly, some Rieslings also carry the smell of petrol or petroleum wax. But don’t worry. It doesn’t mean that the wine is contaminated.

On the other hand, Moscato tends to have a much stronger aroma than Riesling. You can detect hints of orange blossoms, peaches, and tropical fruits.

5. Alcohol Content

While the flavor of a wine is the top priority, the alcohol content is equally important to determine its strength. Riesling wines are usually higher in alcohol than Moscato wines. Riesling wine typically contains 8-9% ABV or more alcohol content. 

The figure varies depending on the maturity of the wine. A well-aged dry Riesling may have an ABV of up to 13%.

Meanwhile, Moscato wines usually have an alcohol content of around 5.5% ABV.

So, if you are looking for a wine to pair with your meal with low alcohol content, Moscato would be a good choice.

6. Price

The maturity of the wine determines the price of a wine bottle. Moscato wines don’t age well in comparison to Riesling. Therefore, Moscato wines are quite affordable. 

They cost between $3 to $110. However, you can also find unique Moscato vintages like an 1875 D’Oliveiras Moscatel Reserva Vintage that cost around $1,500.

On the other hand, Rieslings are usually more expensive. The finest Riesling bottles can stay in the cellar for 30+ years. Therefore, they can cost anywhere between $3 to $33,000.

7. Food Pairings

A successful wine pairing enhances the dining experience by elevating the food’s flavors, textures, and qualities. Therefore, learning which wine pairs well with what kind of food is important for the best experience.

With its unique, acidic sweetness, Riesling tastes good with spicy dishes. You can pair it with chicken, seafood, pork, Thai salads, Hawaiian pizza, shellfish, smoked sausage, and more.  

Pertaining to its sweetness, Moscato should be matched with sweeter foods, particularly desserts. So, try it with desserts like cheesecake, chocolate pudding, and strawberries.

But you can also pair Moscato with vegetarian dishes, chicken, seafood, fruit salads, or tarts. Moscato also tastes good with cheese like blue, goat, pepper jack, baked brie, and fruit-infused cheese.

Moscato also shines when paired with spicy food. The sweetness and low alcohol of Moscato calms you down and complement the spice. 

Riesling Vs. Moscato | Which Is Healthier?

Riesling Vs. Moscato

We all love a glass of good wine. More so because they are good for your health when consumed in small quantities. But alcoholic drinks also add to the calorie and fat intake. Therefore, it is good to know which wine is healthier.

White wines have lower alcohol and calorie content than red wines. These varieties include Riesling, vino verde, and pinot grigio. They have fewer calories than other white wines like Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.

White wines are packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, essential vitamins and minerals, and iron, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus, which help prevent chronic diseases. Thus, drinking wine in moderation can help to improve overall health.

However, Riesling and Moscato contain a very high amount of residual sugar, which in turn, is broken down into fat. Excessive consumption can also lead to a severe hangover. 

Riesling Vs. Moscato | Which Is Tastier?

Riesling and Moscato are both great-tasting sweet wines. But the difference in their acidity levels leads to a difference in flavor. If you are a wine beginner, you will prefer Moscato for its fruit aroma and sweeter taste. But if you enjoy complex flavors with a kick of sweetness, Riesling would be a good choice.

Riesling Vs. Moscato | Which Is More Versatile?

Riesling Vs. Moscato

If we compare the two wines, both are aromatic varieties. While Moscato is always a safe choice, if we compare them for versatility, Riesling qualifies as a versatile wine as it can be sweet or dry. At the same time, Moscato is almost always sweet. You can also pair Riesling with a variety of foods.

Riesling Vs. Moscato | Which Is Better?

Choosing one wine between Riesling and Moscato is a tough choice. But to pick one, Riesling is considered the best. It is a wine that combines the complexity of flavors, sweetness, and richness. Riesling tastes more rounded and full-bodied than lighter, fresher, and sweeter Moscato.

This refreshing wine comes in many styles, from dry, rich, and fruity, which makes it an excellent pairing with food. It also ages well and can be enjoyed on hot summer days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Reisling a sweet wine?

Riesling is a sweet wine, but it also comes in dry varieties.

Is Riesling high in alcohol?

Riesling comes with about 12% alcohol by volume (ABV), less than other wines.

What food pairs best with Riesling?

Sweet and dry Riesling wines pair well with many foods like fish, seafood, chicken, Thai or Indian cuisine, cheese, and more.

At what temperature should we drink Riesling?

Riesling should be served at 45–49°F. The lighter the wine is in color and style, the colder it should be served to maintain its acidity and freshness.

Is Moscato the same as Riesling?

Moscato and Riesling are two different wines. Moscato is sweeter than Riesling.

What kind of wine is Moscato?

Moscato is a sweet, fizzy white or Rosé wine with low alcohol content. It pairs well with desserts and appetizers.


We have reached the end of this article. I hope you enjoyed learning about these two famous wines. Their understanding will help you pick the right one for the occasion.

If you have more questions about these two wines, feel free to ask me in the comments section below.

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