Everyday: It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. For example: looking for a truly great domestic pinot noir for under $20. I guess, then, that the 2011 Paro Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($19) must be the proverbial exception that proves the rule. There’s lovely red fruit and that forest-floor thing from the get-go. A touch of smoke kicks in, and the finish is seriously long and even more seriously delicious. The predictable aspect of this version of the varietal is what foods go with it: roast chicken, must anything with mushrooms or cherries in it, root veggies, etc. Take in the wondrously earthy, pure work of Buddy and Julie Miller while you sip.
Occasion: A California pinot gris worth $29? Believe it, when we’re talking about one from the estimable winery run by Mr. Robert Sinskey. The 2012 Robert Sinskey Los Carneros Pinot Gris starts lean before layers of citrus and stone fruit perform a pas de deux on the palate. This is an unusually intense white that rewards savoring; the alluring white flowers and Meyer lemon aromas make that task a good bit easier. Most any salad will cozy right up to this beauty, as will grilled shrimp and other shellfish. The soundtrack: Cat Stevens’ intense but charming masterpiece “Tea for the Tillerman.”