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In This Issue
 Short and sweet A lingering heat wave prompts a thirsty look at two Northwestern Italian goodies that make splendid summer quaffers because they're short (on alcohol) and refreshingly sweet.
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 This week on
Another take on Brachetto d'Acqui, and Bucko's notes on 100 new releases. In our forums, we offer a wine "rookie" some tips on starting out, and offer a poll on the importance of wine's health benefits to you.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Short and sweet

Here's a convenient truth: Global warming, global schwarming, whatever the cause of it is, it's still too darn hot.

With the temperatures hereabouts rising well into the 90s lately (that's the 30s to the rest of the world), and little relief in sight, it's no coincidence that I've been tasting a disproportionate amount of cool, refreshing summer wines, from sparkly Prosecco to crisp, cold rosé.

Today let's take a virtual trip to Piemonte, the Alpine foothills of Northwestern Italy, where in a strange but delicious vinous contradiction the local folks produce and enjoy both some of the world's darkest and most ageworthy wines (Barolo and Barbaresco) and some of its lightest, fizziest and most frivolously fun.

This is no time for roast beef and Barolo, so we turn instead to the refreshers, two cooling draughts that I call short (for their very low alcohol content) and sweet for their fresh-fruit sugars that, happily, come across as crisp and refreshing as fresh fruit juice.

The white wine, Moscato d'Asti ("Mos-CAH-toe DAHS-tee"), is a cousin of the familiar Asti Spumante (nowadays usually seen as just-plain Asti). It's made from the Moscato (Muscat) grape, an ancient and widespread variety that's exceptionally aromatic - usually showing distinct and characteristic scents of peaches, apricots and grapefruit - and almost invariably made sweet and fizzy, although it can range from the light prickly carbonation that the Italians call "frizzante" to a more bubbly carbonation ("spumante"). Moscato rarely comes with a Champagne-style cork and wire cage, but is generally produced in a heavyweight bottle with a tight-fitting cork that expands into a cone shape when it comes out of the bottle.

Today's red is a rare bird, produced and exported in relatively limited quantities, but if you have an adventurous spirit, it's well worth seeking out. Brachetto d'Acqui ("Bra-KET-toe Dah-KEE") is made from the Brachetto grape in the Monferrato region, just down the road from Barolo and Barbaresco. Like Moscato, it's usually frizzante or spumante, but it's not usually as sweet, qualifying as "semi-secco" or "half-dry," a light sweetness that barely shows against crisp acidity and sparkling bubbles. Its signature aroma is strawberries, juicy and fresh, although I admire it as much for an unusual complexity that adds in pleasant medicinal and herbal notes and a light bitterness that remind me of Campari and similar aperitifs. (Candor compels me to confess that my long-suffering bride does not share my affection for Brachetto. She likens it to a warm, flat Coke. You have been warned.)

As noted, both Brachetto and Moscato are very low-alcohol wines, usually produced at 5.5 percent alcohol, well below half the strength of typical table wines, which makes it easy to quaff them as a cooling summer aperitif. They do still contain alcohol, though, so if you're driving, take care.

They're most often drunk cold, without meals, as summer cocktails, but in pursuit of my theory that slightly sweet, fizzy wines go exceptionally well with fiery fare, I poured both with a hot-and-spicy Western Chinese cool salad, "hacked" chicken with cucumbers, and thought both served reasonably well.

Marenco Marenco 2004 "Pineto" Brachetto d'Acqui ($19.99)

Clear, fairly light cherry red; a quick froth drops back, leaving a few bubbles around the rim. Subtle but pleasant cranberry aromas carry over to a tart-sweet red-berry flavor with prickly carbonation and a distinct, pleasant herbal-bitter character in the finish. It reminds me more than a little of a Campari and soda, and I like that. Lightweight 5.5% alcohol makes it a winner for summer sipping, and subtle complexity elevates it well above mere "pop" summer wines. U.S. importer: VIAS Imports, NYC (July 28, 2006)

Here's the importer's fact sheet on Marenco Brachetto:
The Marenco Website (Italian, English, German) is here:

Find the wine online on

Batasiolo Batasiolo 2004 "Bosc d'la Rei" Moscato d'Asti ($13)

This clear, pale-gold wine pours with a frothy mousse that soon falls back, leaving no visible bubble stream but a sense of prickly carbonation on the tongue. Fresh grapefruit and peach aromas lead into a sweet peach flavor that evokes peach nectar, but it's light-bodied, and crisp acidity keeps it refreshing. A soft drink for grown-ups, relatively low (5.5%) alcohol invites quaffing. U.S. importer: Boisset America, Bardstown, Ky. (July 28, 2006)

The Flash-heavy Batasiolo Website is available in your choice of Italian, English, German, Portuguese or Spanish:

The winery Website provides a world-wide list of distributors:
Find Batasiolo Moscato online on

The Brachetto d'Acqui is featured in Open Mike, a new project on our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group in which participants walk up to the microphone to suggest a wine for tasting and invite others to taste it, too, and share reports. To join in, grab a glass and click:

Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.

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This week on

Some highlights of recent articles on that I hope you'll enjoy:

Italian Wine Guide: Brachetto
Raise a glass of Italian wine in salute to the World Cup champions! With this hot weather bearing down on most of us, Italian wine expert Tom Hyland suggests, you may just want to enjoy a glass of one of the most delicious - and fun - of all Italian wines: Brachetto d'Acqui.

Bucko's Wine Reports: Summer 2006 Releases
In the grip of a record heat wave, people are reaching for a cold brewsky rather than a glass of wine. But don't write off wine just yet. There are plenty of wines just made to beat the heat, or to accompany a hunk of charred beef from the barbecue. Randy "Bucko" Buckner is here with his monthly new-releases report on 100 new wines.

Hot topics in our WineLovers Discussion Groups
Our WineLovers' Discussion Groups are the best places online to ask wine questions and participate in the civil and intelligent discussion of good things to eat and drink. Our WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG) is the Internet's original wine forum, a non-commercial venue intended for wine-related conversations that range from apprentice-level to wine professionals. Our WineLovers Community on the Netscape/CompuServe service is dedicated to wine education, a friendly place to get quick answers to your questions about wine, beer, spirits and all good things to drink.

Wine novice seeks help...
Declaring herself a wine "rookie," a new WineLovers Discussion Group asked our forum participants for some tips to help her break into the seemingly daunting world of wine, and she gets a good deal of thoughtful and practical advice. If you're new to wine, you may enjoy some of these suggestions; and if you're an old-timer, we hope you'll drop by and offer your own ideas.

Poll: Do you drink wine for your health?
As noted in the popular "French Paradox" hypothesis, there's abundant evidence that people who enjoy wine in moderation enjoy greater health and longevity than either heavy drinkers or teetotalers. In this week's Netscape WineLovers Community poll, we're hoping to get a sense of how much of a factor wine's health benefits are in the average wine enthusiast's decision to enjoy the beverage. Please take a moment to click to the online poll and tell us where you stand:

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Fruit bomb! (July 28, 2006)

 A rosé is a rosé ... not! (July 26, 2006)

 Zork! (July 24, 2006)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Spiced duck for Pinot (July 27, 2006)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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Monday, July 31, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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