Everyday: Dow is known, with good reason, for its Ports, but the Dow Vale de Bomfim Duoro Valley is a fabulous red table wine year in and year out, and an absolute steal at $12-$14. There’s vivid red fruit with some wild-berry notes, hints of coffee in some vintages and a clean, focused mouthfeel. It’s got Old World dirt but no funk and nice complexity, plus an alcohol level that hovers around 13 percent. This is one of our absolute favorite hearty-soup wines, but also marries well with roasted meat, of both the dark and white ilk.
Occasion: This must be red-blend week, because another perennial favorite, the Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel ($50), is sounding seriously good right about now. There are (very) healthy dollops of mourvedre, syrah and grenache in there and a bit of counoise, giving this wine both brightness and heft. It’s a ripe and rustic, lush-fruit delight, reminiscent of the winery owners’ roots in the RhÃ´ne (the Perrins also run Chateau Beaucastel, thus the name of this wine). Again with the meats, braised or roasted, but meaty pizzas and eggplant-based dishes also play well with this wine.