Everyday: Joseph Bastianich has long been among America’s foremost experts on Italian (although I’d put the Twin Cities’ Marc Mackondy right up there with him). And clearly Bastianich also knows a lot about making Italian wine, at least if the Bastianich Friulano ($16) is any indication. It’s supremely fresh and boasts delightful minerality and surprising length. But mostly it’s just plain delicious, with lively pear and citrus notes. Made from the grape formerly known as tocai friulano — the first part lopped off by an EU ruling to avoid confusion with tokaji from Hungary, which isn’t even a grape, but hey, that’s bureaucracy in action — it should play well with any seafood dish, whether the sauce or seasoning is creamy, zingy or spicy.
Occasion: It’s rare to find a zinfandel that’s an “occasion” wine, but it’s also nice during holiday spending time to find one that checks in at around $24. The Green and Red Chiles Canyon Zinfandel 2010 is dusty and rustic but jolts the palate with dark cherry/berry flavors. This is one harmonious wine, hearty and vibrant, which is especially nice because of how long it lingers. A wonderful fireplace or fire-pit wine, it also would rock with slow-cooked ribs, a meaty pizza or a juicy slab of sirloin — any of which is an occasion at our house.