Hip-hop help sees Moscato sales soar in US

3rd January, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Sales of Moscato are soaring in the US as hip-hop artists continue to name-check the low alcohol sweet wine in their songs.

Breaking out of its after-dinner niche, US Moscato sales grew more than 80% for the 52 weeks ending 12 November, according to Nielsen.

“The last thing I can remember that shot out of the cork like that was Pinot Noir after the film Sideways,” said Danny Brager, vice president of Nielsen’s beverage and alcohol division.

“But the pop-culture inspired growth in Pinot Noir has been eclipsed by the rise of Moscato,” Brager added.

A year-on-year comparison shows sales of Moscato in America topping US$300 million for 2011, more than triple what they were for 2009.

With an average price of less than US$10 per bottle, the variety now accounts for around 3% of total table wine sales in the US, up from 1% in 2009.

Moscato’s recent sales success among urban drinkers has been boosted by plugs in R&B and hip-hop songs by the likes of Kanye West (pictured), Ne-Yo, Lil’ Kim and Ab-Soul.

West was one of the first to elevate Moscato’s profile, serving Saracco Moscato d’Asti at a party in 2005 and mentioning the wine in a remix of the song Make Her Feel Good.

“Moscato is definitely coming on strong, especially in the urban market,” said New York-based wine consultant Lisa Carley.

“The rise of Moscato and sweet red wines seems to indicate that Americans are getting more comfortable with wine in general. Because of that, they are drinking what they like as opposed to what they ‘should’ drink,” Carley added.

The rising popularity of Moscato from entry-level brands like Sutter Home, Gallo and Yellowtail is leading to increased plantings of Muscat in California, Chile, Argentina, France and Spain.

“Moscato is a good gateway wine for people that don’t typically drink wine. It’s sweet and it’s not intimidating,” said Megan Metcalf, editor of US trade publication Wine & Spirits Daily, adding, “People who would have drunk White Zinfandel are now drinking Moscato.”

3 Responses to “Hip-hop help sees Moscato sales soar in US”

  1. The premise of this article is on point. However, I don’t know if the aim was to get the most mainstream prognosticator, as in Kanye West, but none of the four artists mentioned has much to do with the boost in Moscato’s profile by a hip hop artist.

    First off, NO one has heard that Kanye West remix. Trust. At the very least, to have them change their drink of choice? Wouldn’t bet on it. Ne-Yo’s last notable song in memory had him singing about the “Champagne Life”. Though I’ve never heard of Ab-Soul, I highly doubt anyone looks to whomever he/she/the group is for what’s “cool” to drink in the club. Lastly, Lil Kim is a shell of her former self, both physically and musically — she sets no trends anymore, and few would be able to cite any recent music.

    The biggest and most prominent pusher of sweet wine is the song, “No Hands” by Roscoe Dash, Waka Flocka Flame, and Wale. “I’ma sip Moscato while she do it with no hands,” is a lyric from the hook. That song was an absolute SMASH the last year or so, and I’m highly surprised that you didn’t note it. While it pains me to cite Waka as having ANY type of influence in culture, his ties to pushing Moscato, for whatever reason, is undeniable.

  2. No, no, no, no, no….please this is utter rubbish! Moscato, and I mean that in its very truest and purest forms is one of the most underrated wines of the world. Proper Moscato d’Asti, which I hasten to add is a DOCG like ‘big name’ wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco etc can be absolutely sublime.
    Yes, there has been an increase, especially in California and parts of Australia to make a lighter, lower alcohol, more refreshing style of Moscato, but this just smacks of people jumping on the bandwagon.
    What is happening here: the ‘bling bling’ crowd’ which are very closely tied through branding, lifestyle etc to luxury Champagne houses are now being encouraged to ’embrace’ and/or put their name to other wine styles. Which marketing boffin/spin doctor dreamt up this campaign?
    The message of trying to encourage and ‘educate’ wine consumers who regularly drink very basic wines such as Yellow Tail etc through the fact that it is deemed to be cool because they are mentioned/endorsed by famous music artists/rappers etc is absolute tosh.

    • Those points all hit in the right place! Consumers are being blindly led as lemmings, to whatever is said to be the wine/spirit “of the moment”. They’re jumping off the cliff to whatever trend someone says, without having enough knowledge, background, or experience to land safely. It’s extremely disappointing and distasteful, I totally agree with you!

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