Everyday: In midsummer our thoughts turn not only to crisp, refreshing whites but also to wines lower in alcohol, the better to engage in some al fresco quaffing. The 2013 Portuga Vinho Branco ($8) delivers on both counts, with lively flavor and texture and just 9.5-percent alcohol. A blend of Ferñao Pires, arinto and vital, this juicy, fruity, semi-fizzy white almost jumps in the mouth, and the just-right acidity leaves a guy yearning from more. Light seafood dishes and challenging veggies such as artichokes and broccoli are among the apt pairings. So are the spunky harmonies of the Dixie Chicks.
Occasion: It’s not often, at least for us semi-jaded sorts, to find a wine that’s truly exciting. Well, last night some fellow riesling hounds and I were simply gushing about the 2014 Paetra Eola-Amity Hills Riesling ($25). Not just about how tasty it was, but how challenging it was to figure out. It was an almost thrilling experience for this cork dork. The fruit flavors are many and varied, with an odd but thoroughly likable herby note, and the texture was classically edgy and persistent. Yum. This wine sang with a pear/bacon/gorgonzola appetizer and a shrimp main course; other options are near endless. The inscrutable but utterly rewarding music of Mr. Tom Waits provides a fitting soundtrack.