Everyday: One of the great frustrations in the wine world is how many merchants simply refuse to stock wines from Alsace. Virtually everything from that region is simply stellar, but you wouldn’t know it by most store shelves or restaurant lists. The 2013 Helfrich Vin d’Alsace Gewürztraminer ($17) should be a ubiquitous offering. It’s cool and clean, lush and lean and lovely; the florals are stupendous, the flavors forceful, the finish refreshing. Besides the usual Asian dishes, this wine rocks with grilled fruit, especially bananas and pineapples. And the criminally unrecognized Nashville thrush Gretchen Peters is equally apt accompaniment.
Occasion: An Italian red for over $100 that’s not from Piedmont or Tuscany and a bargain to boot? Yes SIR. The 2001 (or any vintage) Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($142) might be the best wine I’ve had this year, a hearty, chunky, million-layered beauty. Earthy aromas, stupendous grip and an elegant but hearty finish are hallmarks of this rustic gem. Fermented in concrete and made by the winery namesake’s daughter Sofia, this Abruzzi red shows just how amazing and noble the usually humble Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape can be. Duck, lamb, oh hell any robust protein will love being served alongside this wine. And the timeless downhome beauty of the Band is a a perfect soundtrack.