Everyday: You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of Italy’s wide range of white varietals than yours truly, but they also know how to make some dandy blends over there. The Banfi Toscano Centine ($12) has a huge, utterly enticing citrus/floral nose and fresh-tasting fruit with a swell jolt of acidity and refreshing finish. One slight problem: This mix of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot grigio is a bit too easy-drinking. Spring salads and veggies (even perenially pairing-challenged asparagus) and seafood or chicken with either zingy or creamy sauces will play well with this Tuscan white.
Occasion: There tends to be a lot of debate about signature European wines that are made in a “modern” style by some and a traditional style by others. I guess I’m “easy”: Well-made wine in any style works for me. I suppose the Vinedos de Paganos El Pundito Rioja ($58) falls in the contemporary category, but all I care about is its delicious amalgam of dark berries, earth and coffee, the firm focus from its minerally undercurrent and the heady mouthfeel and finish. It spends a long time in new French oak and still needs some aging; the ’04s and ’05 are right in the zone today. Bring out the grill, or the roasting pan, or the braising pot, for some beef or game dishes.