Everyday: It shouldn’t be easy to forget a delicious wine from New Mexico, but somehow the Gruet Brut Blanc de Noirs NV ($14) is not on my radar as much as it should be. This vibrant sparkler is a wonderful weeknight sipper that also makes kick-ass Mimosas and Bellinis. Lively, friendly and just fat enough, it zings through the palate and lingers in lovely fashion, making it eminently quaffable but also worth savoring. Like its bubbly confreres, the Gruet is an amazingly versatile food wine, pairing well with potato chips and popcorn, sushi and salmon, steak and baked potatoes, apple pie and fatty cheese, etc etc. etc.
Occasion: Alvaro Palacios’ old-vine grenaches from Spain’s Priorat region are well worth exploring at a couple of price points. The Les Terraces Velles Vinyes 2008 ($35) is a firm, focused introduction, with bright cherry and herb flavors and soft but not wimpy tannins. The Finca Dofi 2008 ($70) is earthier but just as fresh, again with the smooth tannins, and a racy finish. These are supple but complex exemplars of just how profound the grape called garnacha in Spain can get. Grilled or roasted beef, lamb, game or sausages will cozy right up to these reds.