- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vignaioli di S. Stefano, Moscato d’Asti, Italy, 2008, $24

Moscato d’Asti may well be the world’s best aperitif wine. Very low in alcohol (no more than 5.5 percent by rule), it’s supremely refreshing. Lightly sweet and seductively fruity, it whets appetites for pleasures ahead even as it provides happiness in the present moment.

Moscato d’Asti is the sophisticated, suave sibling of Asti spumante, the sugary, usually quite inexpensive fizz that, when well made, goes well with wedding cake and other sweets. Unlike spumante, it is only slightly sparkling, so it comes in a bottle with a regular cork and usually is served in a normal wine glass rather than a flute. Made with carefully selected grapes, its charm comes from its light, delicate texture in addition to its sensuously peachy flavors.

This particular Moscato is a co-operative venture involving the Ceretto family of Barolo fame and a number of local vintners in Asti. It excels because it exhibits superior balance, being off-dry but crisp, and not at all sappy or candied. Drink it before dinner, especially on an evening when Indian summer brings a last breath of summer warmth.

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