Decoding the Distinctions: Riesling vs. Moscato

Riesling vs. Moscato: Exploring the differences

Riesling and Moscato are two popular wine varieties known for their sweet and fruity flavors. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the differences between Riesling and Moscato, exploring their flavor profiles, sweetness levels, aromas, and more. Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or a curious novice, let’s discover the unique qualities of these wines.

Flavor Profiles

Both Riesling and Moscato offer delightful fruity flavors, but there are notable differences between the two. Riesling tends to be more full-bodied, with prominent notes of pineapple, apple, apricot and pear. It may also have hints of citrus and honey. Wine enthusiasts often describe Riesling as a complex and mature wine, appreciated for its rich flavors and aromas. This makes Riesling a suitable choice for those who want to explore drier wines while still enjoying a touch of sweetness.
Moscato, on the other hand, has a lighter and fresher flavor profile, characterized by peach and citrus notes. Some individuals may detect subtle undertones of honey and tropical fruit. Moscato’s light and refreshing taste makes it an excellent choice for first-time wine drinkers. It offers a gentle introduction to the world of wine without overwhelming the palate. In essence, while Riesling can be compared to homemade lemonade, Moscato resembles the pleasantness of peach juice.

Sweetness levels

Riesling and Moscato are generally considered sweet wines, although the degree of sweetness can vary. Moscato tends to be sweeter than Riesling, but this also depends on the specific variety of each wine. Here is a quick overview of sweetness levels in order of intensity:

  • Dessert Moscato: One of the sweetest wines available, often served with dessert. It typically contains about 100 grams of residual sugar per liter.
  • Sweet Riesling: Highly sought after by wine connoisseurs for its balanced sweetness that complements its light and refreshing character.
  • White Moscato: Made from a blend of Muscat Blanc grapes and other Moscato varieties, it is sweeter than most white wines, though less sweet than dessert Moscato.
  • Red Moscato: An unusual variety, this is a sweet red wine with a dark, fruity flavor and hints of spice and floral notes.
  • Pink Moscato: A rosé style sweet wine with red berry flavors. It has a light effervescence and a floral aroma.
  • Sparkling Moscato: Slightly sweeter than other sparkling wines, but drier than white Moscato.
  • Sparkling Riesling: A semi-sweet sparkling wine, also known as champagne.
  • Off-dry Riesling: Offers subtle sweetness along with moderate acidity.
  • Dry Riesling: Aged for several years, it has a dry and complex flavor profile, in stark contrast to sweet Riesling.


When it comes to wine, aroma plays a crucial role in our perception and enjoyment. Riesling and Moscato share some similarities in their floral profiles, often evoking scents of roses and white flowers. Riesling also has notes of orchard fruits such as nectarine, apricot, apple and pear. There may also be hints of sweeter elements such as honeycomb and jasmine, as well as a touch of citrus, such as lime zest.
Moscato, on the other hand, is distinguished by its distinctive grape aroma. While wine connoisseurs generally focus on more subtle flavors rather than directly associating the wine with the fruit it is made from, the grape scent of Moscato is unmistakable. In addition, Moscato often has a stronger aroma than Riesling, with hints of orange blossom, peach and tropical fruit.

Acidity levels

Acidity is an important factor that contributes to the overall flavor of the wine, especially in sweet wines. Riesling has relatively high acidity levels, similar to soda. This acidity provides a perfect counterbalance to the sweetness of the wine, preventing it from becoming overly cloying. The higher acidity in Riesling gives it a refreshing and lively character.
Moscato, on the other hand, has a moderate acidity that allows its sweetness to shine through. This makes Moscato more accessible to those new to wine tasting. It offers a pleasant balance between sweetness and acidity, making it an ideal choice for those exploring wine for the first time.
The acidity of wines also influences their aging potential. Riesling, with its high acidity, can be aged for several years, allowing the wine to evolve and improve over time. Moscato, on the other hand, is best enjoyed young and fresh, as its acidity tends to decrease with age.

Food pairing

Both Riesling and Moscato are versatile wines that pair well with a wide variety of foods. Here are some suggested food pairings for each wine:

  • Spicy Asian cuisine: Riesling’s sweetness and acidity make it an excellent companion for dishes with a spicy kick, such as Thai or Indian curries.
  • Seafood: Riesling’s vibrant acidity complements the delicate flavors of seafood, including shellfish, fish tacos and sushi.
  • Pork dishes: Whether it’s roasted pork tenderloin or glazed ham, Riesling’s fruity and acidic nature provides a pleasant contrast to the richness of the meat.
  • Soft cheeses: The sweetness of Riesling pairs beautifully with creamy, soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert or goat’s cheese.


  • Fruit-based desserts: Moscato’s fruity and floral notes harmonize perfectly with fresh fruit desserts such as berry tarts, peach cobbler or citrus-based desserts.
  • Light Salads: Moscato’s light and refreshing character complements salads with fresh greens, citrus dressings and fruit accents.
  • Spicy dishes: Moscato’s sweetness helps balance the heat in spicy dishes such as Mexican or Thai cuisine.
  • Cheese platters: Moscato pairs well with a variety of cheeses, including mild blue cheese, fresh mozzarella or Gouda.


In conclusion, Riesling and Moscato are delightful wines with their own unique characteristics. Riesling offers a fuller flavor with complex aromas and a hint of sweetness, making it a favorite among wine lovers. Moscato, on the other hand, presents a lighter and fresher flavor profile, perfect for those new to wine tasting.
The sweetness, aromas, and acidity of Riesling and Moscato are different and provide different experiences for the palate. Riesling’s higher acidity balances its sweetness, while Moscato’s moderate acidity allows its fruity flavors to shine.
Both wines pair well with a variety of foods, offering a wide range of food pairing options. Whether you’re enjoying a spicy Asian meal or a fruit-based dessert, Riesling and Moscato can enhance your dining experience.
Whether you prefer the complexity of Riesling or the lightness of Moscato, exploring these wines will undoubtedly broaden your appreciation for the world of wine. Here’s to discovering your new favorite!


What are the main taste differences between Riesling and Moscato?

Both Riesling and Moscato offer fruity flavors, but Riesling tends to be more full-bodied with notes of pineapple, apple and apricot, while Moscato has a lighter taste with hints of peach and citrus.

Which is sweeter, Riesling or Moscato?

Moscato is generally sweeter than Riesling, although the specific variety of each wine can affect the level of sweetness. Moscato is known for its sweetness, while Riesling can range from off-dry (subtle sweetness) to sweet, depending on the specific variety.

What foods go well with Riesling?

Riesling pairs well with spicy Asian dishes, seafood, pork and soft cheeses such as Brie or goat’s cheese. Its acidity and fruity flavors provide a pleasant contrast to these dishes.

Which desserts go well with Moscato?

Moscato complements fruit-based desserts such as berry tarts, peach cobbler and citrus-based desserts. Its fruity and floral notes harmonize with the flavors of these desserts.

Can you age Riesling and Moscato?

Riesling, with its higher acidity, can be aged for several years, allowing the wine to evolve and improve over time. Moscato, on the other hand, is best enjoyed young and fresh, as its acidity tends to decrease with age.

Are Riesling and Moscato suitable for beginners?

Yes, both Riesling and Moscato are excellent choices for beginners. Moscato’s lighter and sweeter profile makes it a gentle introduction to wine, while Riesling offers a more complex and mature flavor profile for those looking to explore drier wines with a hint of sweetness.