Everyday: The safest proclamation I can make about wine is that Italian whites under $20 have shown more gains in quantity and quality than any other category. The latest seriously delicious evidence: the Pala Vermentino di Sardegna 2011 ($17), whose truly gorgeous nose aptly foreshadows its overall swellness. The very definition of harmony among its fruit, acidity and minerality, this island white has dollops of pear and blood orange flavors, a racy mouthfeel and a looooong finish. Try it with roasted fish or fowl, creamy pastas and rustic pizzas. Yum.
Occasion: If you’re feeling flush for Feb. 14, by all means spring for the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, an astounding pink nectar. But for about half the money, you can do about as well with the Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé Champagne ($46). Packed with bright red berry flavors with a touch of peach, this sexy wine tingles its way through the palate, showing both depth of flavor and lightness of texture. The finish is spicy, and the fruit’s ripeness lingers. It was not a surprise, after tasting, to learn that this beauty is 60 percent pinot noir (along with 30 percent pinot meunier and 10 percent chardonnay). Grab some oysters or sushi or popcorn or strawberries (almost redundant) or fried chicken/fish and have at it. Or sip it with your sweetie on some holiday or other that’s coming up.