Everyday: I loves me some assyrtiko, the piercing but seriously tasty grape that is a hallmark of the magical Greek isle of Santorini. Although it’s a blend, the 2014 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko-Athiri ($19) is a stone-cold delight. The nose is lemony and a bit briny (evoking the surrounding Aegean Sea) and offers up bracing citrus bursts of flavor, the racy acidity providing refreshing, mouth-watering pleasure on the midpalate. The finish is clean and nigh onto endless. Yum. Most any fruit of the sea, but especially fried calamari and grilled octopus, provide splendid pairing, as do spritely spring salads. Plop on the crystalline and soulful vocals of Edith Piaf, and enter Bliss City.
Occasion: I relished writing about Rioja in my biweekly Star Tribune guise, and one of my very favorites is the 2010 LAN “Culmen” Reserva Rioja. It’s proof positive that a $54 wine can be a bargain, and ample evidence that all the buzz about the 2010 Riojas is well-founded. Despite its youth, this is a delicious, full-favored, ready-to-drink red, but it has the grip and stuffing to ensure age-worthiness. It’s got that ineffable red-fruit/dust combo that can only come from this region (OK, maybe from Bordeaux, too). Grilled sausages infused with Mediterranean/Moroccan spices would be one of those rare perfect matches, and a Porterhouse steak or lamb chop would not blow. The late, truly great guitar master Michael Bloomfield is another swell companion.