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By Wine columnist
updated 8/25/2005 2:25:38 PM ET 2005-08-25T18:25:38

In the heat and humidity of late summer, a feather-light wine with a bit of effervescence makes for a perfect transition to a relaxing evening.

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For that I’m thinking of Italy and a charming white that I discovered recently and have enjoyed several times in recent weeks. (It also has the advantage of being as easy on the wallet as it is to drink.)

The 2004 Moscato from Bartenura, made in the Piedmont region of Italy's northwest, comes in a blue bottle, a color from which, I must admit, I don’t find myself pouring very often.  But in this case the packaging works, serving almost as an invitation to cool off with the refreshing liquid inside.

The grape is the popular muscat, grown, in this case, in the Monferrato hills of the province of Asti.  Typical of moscato, this is a low-alcohol wine (just five percent), which is responsible for its lightness and makes it attractive as a thirst-quencher.

Served very cold, you’ll find yourself, in fact, all but gulping it down, as I was tempted to do on a hot night in the kitchen while preparing dinner. 

Its low alcohol signifies something else — the wine is semi-sweet because fermentation has been interrupted.  This, too, is a hallmark of moscato from Asti.

The result is a delightful aperitif — white peaches in a glass with notes of citrus.  With its lively acidity, the wine takes a turn in the home stretch, finishing slightly drier and altogether refreshingly.

Royal Wines
Beyond an opening act, this is also a great dessert wine and will complement fresh fruits, pies and other pastries.  (The Italians, it is claimed, even like it with pizza, which, as I think about it, may not be that much of a stretch.)  The suggested price is $13 but I’m sure it can be found for a bit less.

This is a wine for summer and beyond.  Enjoy it now, and as a reminder of summer’s fruit when the cooler weather returns.

Edward Deitch's wine column appears Wednesdays. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at EdwardDeitch@hotmail.com.

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