In case you haven’t heard, the latest rapper-approved drink making cameos in hot hip-hop tracks is not a luxury spirit or a baller champagne. It’s sweetly scintillating easy-drinking $10-a-bottle moscato. Artists like Drake, Kanye West and Lil’ Kim have been big-upping the grape variety in their lyrics.
It isn’t news to hip-hop-loving – or -hating – white wine drinkers (Lil’ Kim rhymed about it in 2005, albeit by pairing “moscato” with “forgot though”), but lately the phenomenon has gone from being a peculiar trend to a surprisingly maligned one. Once it got on the wine industry’s radar, certain critics denounced it as foolish, even harming to the wine.
According to Nielsen, sales of moscato rose 70 percent last year – and it’s likely that Drake and Kanye are at least partially responsible. But the question at a recent wine industry event that featured a lengthy presentation on the trend seemed to be, “Is this an issue?” Some people believe rappers are ruining moscato, the way they supposedly marred Courvoisier’s reputation. It’s a touchy subject that smacks of discrimination. Luckily, not everyone in the wine biz wants emcees to keep their minds off moscato.
“I think it’s fantastic,” says Roy Cecchetti of the Cecchetti Wine Company, which producers Redtree Moscato. “It’s tapping in to a whole new consumer. It’s wonderful. My daughter is in the music business in Los Angeles and she’s seeing it all over the place.”
The main difference between hip-hop’s ties to moscato and its ties to, say, Cristal or Moët, is obvious: the luxury bottlings Jay-Z and Biggie rapped about back in the day were specific brands, and were products well out of reach for much of the young urban audience that made up their fan base. In the case of moscato, not only is the product not brand-specific, it also represents a wine that just about everyone can afford.
Moscato has never been associated with the high life. In most cases, it’s a fruity, sweet, gently effervescent wine with low alcohol and no serious reputation to speak of. It’s not the kind of wine that gets praised for its complexity or ruminated over with poetic descriptors. It’s sipped on hot days and warm nights, with fun foods, like picnics, barbecue, meats on sticks and dessert.
On occasion, it’s the butt of a wine snob’s joke. Why certain folks are turning their noses up at the attention simply because it’s driven by hip-hop is incomprehensible. Don’t they realize that, until Lil’ Kim came along, moscato had all the cachet of White Zin?
A more interesting question might be, why?
“The obvious answer to me is that it’s sweeter than other wines, which appeals to new drinkers,” says Cecchetti. “It’s bringing new people to wine and that’s good. And the word itself – moscato – it’s fun to say.”
Detractors of the trend say the raps themselves are the problem, such as Drake’s lyric about sipping moscato with lobster: a textbook terrible pairing. Oh, pshaw. With all the crimes against the palate made in the world today, drinking a light, sweet wine with buttery-sweet lobster ranks pretty low.
And did it ever occur to everyone that Drake is aware of breaking a pairing rule, but does it anyway as a revolt against rigidity of the fooderati? Either way, let the people have their moscato served with fatty lobster and phat beats. At least they’re not drinking Jaeger Bombs and Appletinis.
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