Everyday: For eons, the grillo grape was grown primarily to be part of Sicily’s tasty Marsala dessert wines. Turns out it’s pretty damn fine as a varietal. The 2012 Tami Grillo ($18) has some seriously racy mineral notes and tons of energy. But most of all it’s got fabulous fruit and great length, a mouth-watering white that would be easy to guzzle if the finish weren’t so much in the pause-that-refreshes vein. This is a really versatile food wine, certainly at home with the seafood and eggplant- or caper-based dishes from its homeland but ideal for any wide-ranging fall feast, up to and including Thanksgiving.
Occasion: Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley is one of my favorite appellations in not just the country but the world, not only turning out swell wines from a wide array of varietals but also often bearing uncommon expressiveness. The 2009 VC Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah ($32) is just such a wine, not only evoking the ground that produced it but tasting exactly a petite sirah should: bold and bracing with big black and purple fruit, chunky at the outset and smooth and hearty on the finish. Braising season is nigh, and this beauty can be an ingredient or accompaniment, as well as pairing nicely with duck and roasted meats or game.