Everyday: Best I can tell, Charles Smith can do no wrong. The Washington-based vintner makes my favorite $12 domestic riesling, his syrahs are powerful and profound, and he has come up with another winner with the 2011 Charles Smith “Vino” Pinot Grigio ($14). Lovely floral and fruit aromas lead to a vast array of yummy flavors (pear, citrus, apple) and a burst of mineral-based lift on the palate. Spot-on acidity works its way into the refreshingly mouth-watering finish. Try it with sushi, buffalo chicken salad, or actually most any fish or any salad.
Occasion: Every once in a while, a wine will remind us of why the French talk so much about “terroir.” The Domaine de Font-Sane “Tradition” Gigondas ($24) has the kind of savory and earthy elements that evoke the ground from which this grenache-based blend sprung. In the 2007 and 2009 renditions, classic Southern Rhone characteristics “” white pepper, dried herbs, red fruit and a bit of meatiness “” come to the fore at varying times. The finish is stout yet a bit silky. Tapenade, hearty pasta dishes and a grilled steak (perhaps laced with white pepper) are among the swell accompaniments.