Everyday: Dow is known, with good reason, for its Ports, but the Dow Vale de Bomfim Duoro Valley is a fabulous red table wine year in and year out, and an absolute steal at $12-$14. There’s vivid red fruit with some wild-berry notes, hints of coffee in some vintages and a clean, focused mouthfeel. It’s got Old World dirt but no funk and nice complexity, plus an alcohol level that hovers around 13 percent. This is one of our absolute favorite hearty-soup wines, but also marries well with roasted meat, of both the dark and white ilk.
Occasion: This must be red-blend week, because another perennial favorite, the Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel ($50), is sounding seriously good right about now. There are (very) healthy dollops of mourvedre, syrah and grenache in there and a bit of counoise, giving this wine both brightness and heft. It’s a ripe and rustic, lush-fruit delight, reminiscent of the winery owners’ roots in the Rhône (the Perrins also run Chateau Beaucastel, thus the name of this wine). Again with the meats, braised or roasted, but meaty pizzas and eggplant-based dishes also play well with this wine.