Everyday: At a Vietnamese restaurant recently, my friend Jason recommend a wine I never would have ordered: a chardonnay from Argentina. Shows what I know. The 2014 Casa Bianchi Elsa Bianchi San Rafael Chardonnay was friendly, expressive and downright delicious, a major league quaffer/crowd-pleaser. The juicy fruit and hint of spice danced splendidly with my egg rolls and five-spice chicken, and I suspect any fish or fowl would pair splendidly with it. But this is also an ideal aperitif wine, and perfect for party planners, since it’s light enough for the non-chard crowd and chard-y enough for the devotees. The easy, breezy, hook-errific music of Squeeze makes for swell accompaniment.
Occasion: Petite sirahs are almost always sturdy, but I can’t remember encountering one as smooth as the Field Stone Staten Family Reserve Petite Sirah ($39). With fruit picked at perfect ripeness, this inky gem glides firmly across the palate, its spot-on tannins making their presence known through the long, hearty finish. Surprisingly, the 2010 was not too young, but a little cellar time wouldn’t hurt with more recent vintages. Whenever the cork is popped, consider braised or roasted meats or root vegetables, or pair it with hard cheeses before or after the main course. The rugged but polished works of Merle Haggard are just the ticket for this rough-and-ready red.