- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Domaine Weinbach, Muscat “Reserve,” Alsace, 2005, $41

This is an expensive white wine, but it’s well worth the money — particularly if you have never savored a dry Alsatian muscat. The experience can be exhilarating. No white wine in the world delivers such an enthralling combination of exotic perfume and crisp, refreshing flavor.

One of the oldest grape varieties, with literally hundreds of clones and genetic variations, muscat grown elsewhere almost always yields sweet wines. When ripe, the grapes fairly ooze with sugar.

In Alsace, however, the tradition calls for fermenting the wines dry. The compelling bouquet of this wine, redolent of spring flowers, citrus fruit and spice, promises something almost decadently sweet, but the flavors prove delightfully dry, leaving you refreshed and ready for another sip. Drinking it is enthralling.

Dry muscat is an ideal aperitif wine, as well as an excellent companion to many Asian dishes, especially those flavored with heat and sweet spice. One caveat: It is not designed for extended aging, as its balance inevitably proves fragile. Given its high price tag, save this wine for a special occasion, but then find one of those this year.

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