Everyday: For those wondering whether there’s a difference between pinot grigio and pinot gris, the answer is no. But there certainly are stylistic distinctions between most milder, consumer-friendly pinot grigios and racy offerings like the 2011 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris ($16). The melon flavors are nigh onto sweet, but some deftly bracing acidity balances this baby out. It’s delicate and sleek on the midpalate and finish. This is the time of year to break out those roast-pork recipes, and this is the wine for those meals. But it also will play well with the squashes and root vegetables that help make autumn my favorite food season.
Occasion: Cambiata is my kind of California winery. It focuses on two varietals: no, not cab and chard, but albariÃ±o and tannat. The albariÃ±o is seriously delicious, while every vintage I have tasted of the Cambiata Monterey Tannat ($30) has been profoundly enjoyable, and enjoyably profound. Rich and plush with soft tannins, earthy dark fruit and a touch of smoke on the long finish, it is made for autumn. Or winter. Oh, and I almost forgot the fascinatingly complex nose; robust, soft tannins and long, toasty finish. Serve this robust delight with smoked or roasted meat and/or stinky cheese, or just with a really good pizza or burger.