Everyday: One doesn’t expect Rhone whites, especially viognier-based blends, to be clean, but the 2013 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc ($14) is all that and more. There’s a lot going on fruit-wise: peach, plum and tangerine, plus some tropical spice and white pepper, especially on the finish. Oh, and thanks for eschewing oak and letting all those flavors and aromas shine. Besides the difficult-to-match shrimp cocktail, this beauty is made for light cheeses and mildly spiced Mexican dishes. The gorgeous, soulful commingling voices of Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell provide a fitting soundtrack.
Occasion: Call it a “Super Campanian.” The 2008 Montevetrano ($64) is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and aglianico (replacing the sangiovese used in most “Super Tuscans”). This robust red from near the town of Salerno in the Campania region is awash with purple stuff: the flowers on the nose, the fruit in the mouth and of course the wine itself in the glass. The tannins provide just the right grip all the way through the long, hearty (and hardy) finish. A complex, persistent, just intense enough but sophisticated wine. Can’t wait to try it with lamb chops, but roasted chicken with winter veggies would also rock. So would the down-home blues-tinged work of Taj Mahal.