Everyday: OK, it’s not exactly prime season for petite sirah. But the 2010 Van Ruiten Lodi Petite Sirah ($17) is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious grilling wine, for both the cook and the people enjoying the fruits of his/her labors. It’s got a lot of character for a wine at that price and a super balance of ample dark fruit, savory tannins and mouth-smacking acidity. The spicy notes and plummy flavors mark it as a brilliant match for a rich barbecue sauce slathered over chicken, ribs, sausages, whatever.
Occasion: During the 1990s, when I was focused mostly on weeknight (and priced accordingly) staples, I would buy J. Lohr’s “Riverstone” Monterey Chardonnay by the case. Its delicious array of fruit flavors is echoed “” more like amplified “” in the J. Lohr “October Night” Arroyo Seco Chardonnay ($22). The tropical and stone and citrus notes provide lushness and leanness, and the fruit on the 2011 is perfectly ripe. The finish is vibrant and clean, especially for a Cali chard. Pair it with any salad containing fruit or fowl and milder Indian or Southeast Asian dishes.