Everyday: Classic viogniers smell almost as strong as stargazer lilies. Really good viogniers also have verve and vibrancy that almost belies all that floral glory. The 2011 Domaine de Gournier Viognier ($11) has the prototypical aromatics and spicy midpalate, but when its elusive fruit comes to the fore, this peachy, keen wine leaps to life all the way through the precise, focused finish (what we cork dorks call “cut”). Try this Languedoc-Rousillon beauty with any white meat with a fruity or creamy sauce. Or simply by its own delicious self.
Occasion: Sometimes the most apt description of a wine’s aroma and/or flavor is actually a color, and I love it when a wine smells and tastes “purple.” That’s one of many swell characteristics of the 2007 Herdade da Comporta ($22). The color actually is bright red, and this robust blend bears the characteristics of Portugal’s best wines: ripe, sun-kissed fruit, plenty of earthiness, firm but friendly tannins and lots of layers on the finish. The spicy notes make it a vegetarian’s delight, but it’s robust enough to play well with grilled red meat and sausages of all sorts.