Everyday: When the sample arrived, my first thought was “That sounds like a college band name.” Turns out the Albino Armani 1607 Prosecco ($16) is a seriously tasty, and serious, wine. Laden with green apple and juicy acidity, this bottle full o’ bubbles from northern Italy has balance and surprising depth for a Prosecco, plus a long, tingly finish. It’s non-vintage, by the way; pretty sure I wouldn’t want to quaff a 1607. This wouldn’t be wasted on Mimosas or Bellinis (if you’re using high-quality fruit juice), but it also should pair well with the usual long litany of sparkling accompaniments, from popcorn to strawberry shortcake to sushi.
Occasion: One of Napa’s oldest wineries also makes one of its best merlots, year in and year out. A deep, dark beauty, the Charles Krug Napa Merlot ($24) could be used as a ringer in a cabernet sauvignon tasting, although the plummy flavors might “out” it. This slightly smoky, grippy red has enough structure to cellar, but the current release (2009) is ready to roll across your palate. Seared beef or game, roasted squash and dark chocolate will play well with this hearty wine.