Everyday: If there’s a better introduction to Piedmont’s wondrous reds than the 2009 Oddero Barbera d’Alba ($18), I would seriously love to hear about it. Earthy but smooth, with darkish red fruit and just-right acidity, this beauty shows that barbera can hang just fine with its more ballyhooed compatriot, nebbiolo. The almost boundless, satiny finish is a nice not-so-little bonus. Bring on the wintry pastas with hearty sauces, but this delightful red, from a winery started in 1878, also will cozy right up to roasted fowl of any ilk, perhaps followed by some hard cheeses.
Occasion: From time to time you’ll hear that the era of Super Tuscans, the blends using Bordeaux grapes and the native sangiovese (or not), is over. Then you’ll taste something like the 2010 Brancaia Maremma Ilatria ($60) and say “balderdash” to such a notion. The merits of each of its grapes — cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and cabernet franc — shine through, with blue and red berry flavors and a touch of wild herb, from the smooth start to the robust finish. This is a refined wine, almost to a fault, at least until a little rusticity pokes through the silky tannins toward the end. Try it with winter stews or soups, including the ribollita of its home region.