Now that it's officially spring, it's time to break out the white suits, straw hats and hot-weather wines. And for the best wines of the season, look towards northern Italy.
Steve Butler at Tim's Wine Market says that Italy is "the hottest place on the planet right now." For red-wine lovers, he recommends Barbera d'Asti from Icardi at $12 (a Wine Spectator "Best Buy") and the medium-bodied Altare Dolcetto d'Alba for $15. If you prefer white wine, reach across the border for the Riesling QbA from the Dr. Loosen winery in Bernkastel, Germany ($10). Its hints of apple and lemon zest make for a dryer, "food-friendly" taste, and the New York Times says it's "very good year in, year out." If you want to impress your friends, dish out $60 for Parusso's '97 Barolo Bussia, an Italian red with big, mouth-filling fruit flavors. Viva Italia!