Moscato vs. Riesling

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Moscato and Riesling are white wines that hail from Europe. They can both be sweet, honey-like wines consumed while young but also aged depending on the specific wine. Riesling has more alcohol than Moscato, but it also has some unusual flavors in its top-quality, aged wines. Both wines often have fruity flavors with relatively high acidity. 

What Is Similar About Moscato And Riesling?

Both Moscato and Riesling are white wines that can be consumed while young, usually just a year or two old. Riesling’s acidity allows for extended aging periods, however. Dry Rieslings can be aged up to 15 years and sweet Rieslings for more than 30 years. Although dry Riesling is common, both wines can be very sweet depending on the variety, the conditions the grapes were grown in, and when they were harvested. 

Riesling grapes are grown in many countries across the world, from their home in Germany to South Africa and the United States. Moscato is a bit harder to grow, so it’s not grown in as many places.

Wine glasses with white wines in them - Moscato vs. Riesling

What Is The Difference Between Moscato Vs. Riesling?

Riesling is a German wine, first referenced as Rüssling in the 1400s. Aged Riesling gives off an unmistakable note of gasoline when first opened, which can be offputting for anyone who isn’t expecting it. Some people also describe it as kerosene or rubber. Oddly enough, this is widely considered a sign of top quality Riesling; lesser quality Riesling is unlikely to have this note at all, usually favoring notes of apples, peaches, or other fruit.

Moscato is an Italian wine, and it’s potentially as old as Riesling, but the Moscato of today wasn’t produced until the 1800s. It usually has flavor notes of peach, apricots, or rose blossoms. Moscato has experienced a surge of popularity in the 2020s, becoming one of the most consumed white wines in the United States. In contrast, while Riesling will always be around, it’s the 20th most grown grape variety. It’s an old-world wine that’s most popular in Germany.

Which One Is Sweeter Or Drier Than The Other?

Riesling is a versatile wine that can be sweet or dry, whereas Moscato is almost always sweet. Certain countries primarily produce dry Riesling, so its origin plays a part in how likely it is to be sweet or dry. For example, Austrian Reisling is usually dry, but Australia produces both sweet and dry Reisling.

Which One Has More Alcohol Content?

Moscato isn’t a wine that’s ever known for its high alcohol content. It sometimes has as little as 5 percent ABV, but 7 to 10 percent is not unheard of. Riesling can have anywhere between 8 to 13.5 percent ABV so on average. It has more alcohol than Moscato.

How Do I Choose Between Moscato And Riesling?

If you want to try a well-aged wine, Riesling is the wine of choice because it’s highly unusual for Moscato to be aged for decades. Riesling is also a good choice if you’d like a higher alcohol wine or want to try an old-world wine. In general, especially if you don’t know your audience, Moscato is a safe choice that appeals to many people.


It might be a little harder to choose between Riesling and Moscato because of the versatility of Riesling. This wine can be just as sweet and fruity as Moscato with around the same amount of alcohol. But it can also be dry and have twice the amount of alcohol. The best choice depends on what you’re looking for in a wine.