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Great Wine Values: Pio Cesare Dolcetto d'Alba

Lightweight red wines, long a maligned and neglected category, have become fashionable.

The global boom in wine appreciation is bringing a broader range of styles to a wider audience than ever before. One welcome result is that lightweight red wines, long a maligned and neglected category, have become fashionable at long last. For too long, American wine drinkers have assumed that words like robust and full-bodied were synonymous with "good" when it came to reds, and have looked down their noses at unoaked red wines and those under 13.5 percent alcohol. Wine professionals find this blind spot mystifying, as novices and aficionados alike have always found the full spectrum of white wines appealing, from the delicate to the decadently rich. And because lighter reds are harder to make than lighter whites, well-made examples under $15 are scarce. Luckily, a change in generations and sensibilities is giving lighter, brighter red wines enough cachet to goose demand and merit a few extra dollars per bottle, as with this pitch-perfect dolcetto from Italy's Piedmont region. The dolcetto grape may not make wines with as much alcohol or that age as gracefully in cask as Piedmont's more famous grapes – nebbiolo and barbera — but what this dolcetto lacks in weight and oak spice is more than made up for in its perky flavors of tart pomegranate and wild blueberries and its authentically Italian bone-dry finish.

Pio Cesare Dolcetto d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy. $17.99 (regularly $19.99; sale price through May 28). PLCB Item #6351

Also available at Hops & Grapes in Glassboro ($17.98); Canal's Bottlestop in Marlton ($18.09); Total Wine & More in Claymont, Del. ($22.99)