Everyday: OK, I’m about ready to utter three words that Minnesotans should never ever ever utter: Bring on winter. The ol’ sweat glands are worn out from all this heat and humidity. At the very least, it’s time for some low-alcohol, brisk-as-all-get-out juice, starting with the Gazela Vinho Verde ($9, usually less). A lovely, lively white in a strikingly beautiful bottle, this baby is as fresh as a spring day and as effervescent as my way better half’s smile. Poolside, patio-side or port side on a boat ride, it refreshes with a blend of citrus, peach and apple flavors. Great with ceviche and other light fruit-of-the-sea dishes.
Occasion: Until this week, I had never heard of the Claudia Springs winery. Then I had a delicious viognier and two wonderful zins from the Mendocino winery within two days. The Claudia Springs John Ricetti Vineyard Zinfandel 2006 ($25) finished second among 20-plus wines in a zinfest among a score of wine geeks, and with good reason. Black fruits and white pepper come to the fore quickly, and there’s plenty of stuffing in this beauty. It’s as balanced a zin as you’ll find, with a rich, buoyant finish. There were four varied sets of barbecued ribs at this gathering, and the Claudia Springs made sweet music with all of them.