Everyday: It’s pronounced vee-own-YAY, and its foremost expression comes out of the Rhone, particularly in hard-to-find Condrieus. But the McManis California Viognier ($11) is not only a dandy, worthy summer sipper but perhaps the most readily available viognier around (along with Cline). With the varietal’s characteristic lovely aromatics showing more fruit than flower, it delivers ripe, clean peach and tropical-fruit flavors and a bit more acidity than most California whites. One of the best soup wines around, this tasty white also plays well with curries and sushi.
Occasion: One of my favorite wine geeks, a man who usually favors tannic European reds, shows his other side with this week’s annual zinfandel gathering. Bad timing, because I find myself without a longtime favorite, the Carol Shelton “Karma” Russian River Valley Old Vines Zinfandel ($33). Guess I’ll have to settle for a Turley or a Carlisle to go with those lip-smacking ribs :o). This is a lusty, rich rendition, with dark fruits and tropical spices, plus more than a hint of chocolate. Try it with lamb, as my way better half and I did the first time we sampled it, on a gorgeous May night dining almost alone on the Dry Creek Kitchen’s patio.