Everyday: Recommended pairings can be dicey, but I’m comfortable saying that the 2012 Domaine Reine Juliet Picpoul de Pinet ($11) can play well with any and every kind of seafood (or river food, or lake food). It’s even got some salt on the nose, but it also takes little imagination to say that this wine smells like sunshine. The very definition of clean and lively, this picpoul blanc has some nice, mineral-laden oomph on the midpalate, and citrusy/peachy deliciousness on the refreshing finish. It also matches up with summer salads, and of course is an ideal quaffer on the beach, or any deck/dock overlooking water.
Occasion: Tobacco. Not smoke, actual tobacco. That’s one of the primary aromas and flavors one gets from any vintage of the La Rioja Alta Cosecha Gran Reserva ($46). The fruit is thick (and with the ’98 I recently sampled, a bit raisiny) but the ample structure is classic Rioja and the flavors and textures complex and layered through the dry, lean finish. Made only in the very best of vintages, this tempranillo melds splendidly with grilled or roasted beef or sausages (where the wine’s spicy edge rocks) or even with a dark-chocolate dessert.