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Wine trends: Make it Moscato

Benchmark Hospitality, which manages resorts, conference centers and hotels, follows and identifies trends at its properties. Here’s what Benchmark is seeing, wine-wise.

The hot grape
Wine is like fashion and this season’s hottest grape is moscato. Moscato wines can be sparkling, dry, sweet and fortified and they tend to pair well with many foods, especially spicy Asian and Mexican dishes. Moscato d’Asti from Italy has nearly usurped Pinot Grigio in terms of popularity.

Make a toast
There’s no way to launch a meal than with champagne or sparkling wine. Whether it is Champagne from France, Cava from Spain, Gruet from New Mexico or Yalupa from Argentina, there’s a bubbly for every occasion. Bars and restaurants are pairing champagne and sparkling wines with their menus, and some are concocting specialty drinks with sparkling wine.
Sherry’s not for Grandma anymore
Long thought of as our grandparents’ drink, sherry is gaining in popularity. Dry versions and small-batch sherries are tasty served cold or over ice with a lemon twist. Sweeter styles pair with chocolate and fruit desserts.
Aperitifs whet appetites
Lillet and Dubonnet or sweet and dry vermouth grape-based mixers, served on the rocks with a twist, are terrific substitutes for the usual mixed drink before dinner. 
Back away from the oak barrel

Many winemakers are moving away from oaked Chardonnays and instead, are producing crisp, clean and more fruit-forward wines that appeal to a broader range of wine drinkers. Another upside? Because no expensive oak barrels are needed, these Chards are less expensive.