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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I don't know anything about wine, but my friend loves Moscato d'Asti. It seems cheap, to me, though. I want to get her a bottle of wine for Christmas, so what would be something similar to her beloved Moscato d'Asti that might be better quality?

—LadyAmber, Louisville, Ky.

Dear LadyAmber,

I also have a friend who loves the popular, sweet, spicy, low-alcohol sparkling Moscato d’Asti. I was recently buying a hostess gift for her and ran into a similar dilemma. I like that she knows what she likes, but you’re right that the bottles can be quite inexpensive, and I wanted to spend a little more. I ended up going with the idea of quantity—I bought her a few different bottlings of Moscato d’Asti so she could do some comparative tasting. She told me she ended up trying them in a blind tasting and now has a new favorite. Wins all around.

If you want to go in a different direction, I have two suggestions. The first would be to further explore the Muscat family of grapes, namely some of the terrific dessert wines that are made in Australia, Alsace, Spain or South Africa. The other idea would be to further expand her exposure to sparkling wines on the sweeter side. Look for the terms sec, demi-sec or doux on a bottle of bubbly.

—Dr. Vinny

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