Everyday: Inexpensive wines from Chile can be an uneven lot, but killer bargains can be found among the whites. The 2015 Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc ($9) is just such a wine, punching way above its weight class with juicy, tasty fruit and a zingy finish. The nose hints at New Zealand, but the flavors lean more toward the Americas, ripe and bold and sassy. The acidity races in just in time, and the mouthfeel is kinda sorta sexy. Shellfish, either intact or chopped into a ceviche, is a swell pairing, but there’s enough oomph here for most chicken dishes. And a lady recently in the headlines for philanthropic work in the wake of Smoky Mountain wildfires, Miss Dolly Parton, provides swell accompaniment for this crystal-clear wine.
Occasion: For this of us who love big ol’ tannins, sagrantino is a stone-cold delight. And now, far from its Umbria nexus, comes a sublime Cal-Ital rendition, the 2012 Mosby Santa Barbara County Sagrantino ($38). This hearty-as-hell red starts soft and then goes dark, as in dark red fruit and fabulous late grip. (The tannins actually are relatively tame compared to most renditions from Montefalco.) It’s the ideal winter wine, made for stews, braises, robust soups and the like. The seriously sturdy “surf guitar” tunes of Dick Dale are made for this wine, both because of their tone but also the wine’s origins near America’s best beaches.