Everyday: At the end of a fantastic dinner at Heyday the other night, manager/wine buyer Dani Megears brought over a vin santo and another sweet Italian wine. The latter, a 2013 Elio Morrone Bigaro ($19), was a true revelation. An effervescent blend of muscat and brachetto, this super-tasty concoction is vibrant and laced with layers of lushness and leanness. The finish leans more toward the former and is seriously clean and refreshing. Adding to the awesomeness: The 5-percent alcohol level makes this a swell quaffer. It works al fresco before or after a summer meal, and plays well with most desserts, especially fruity ones. For musical accompaniment, who better than Mr. Sweet Baby James, the enduring and delightful James Taylor.
Occasion: When it comes to California cabernet, I’ll admit to being a bit of a nostalgia buff. What that means is that I’m
especially enamored with the ones that harken back, that remind me of why I fell in love with these wines in the first place. The 2011 McGrail Livermore Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($39) is just such a wine. With classic fruit (cassis, dark berries, a bit of plum), hits of mint/eucalyptus and a hearty, layered finish, this beauty is, well, super cab-y. The fruit’s perfect ripeness and the just-right tannins are noteworthy as well. Grilled lamb or beef are the obvious pairings, and with good reason. The spot-on soulfulness and sexy riffing of tenor giant Sonny Rollins are made for this wine.