Everyday: For years, it seems, the prices of really good albariños have been creeping up to and beyond the $20 mark. So it’s seriously cool to find a splendiferous one like the 2015 La Val Rias Baixas Albarino for just 15 simoleons. Smooth but lively, mellow but persistent, this lovely-looking (a fab shade of straw tinged with Key lime hues), this Spanish white has a striking herb/fruit nose, and the citrus and stone-fruit flavors are seamlessly layered. Spot-on acidity has something to do with that, and with the super-clean, persistent finish. Break out the bivalves and shellfish for this one. The pristine, incisive vocals of Judy Collins are another fine accompaniment.
Occasion: Any fool who still is thumbing his/her nose at merlot can just go to … the store and get the 2013 Miner Family Stagecoach Vineyard Merlot ($46). It punches way above its weight class, delivering juicy, hearty black and blue fruit and fantastic grip on the midpalate. And what a finish, robust yet silky, just like great merlot should be. The Stagecoach Vineyard is one of Napa’s premier sites, and vintner Dave Miner ups his winemaking chops every year, it seems. This is a great autumn red, cozying up to braised or roasted meets and root veggies. I head through the grapevine that Marvin Gaye would be the ideal soundtrack for this smooth but hefty beauty, so let’s get it on.