Wines for every occasion

Sometimes the occasion calls for something fancy; other times, all that’s needed is a good, honest wine. Here are some recommendations to suit a range of wintertime moods and events, from a romantic, fireside Valentine’s Day to a Super Bowl party.

Sauvignon Blanc for Chinese New Year

If you like:

Merry Edwards 2012 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($32)
Edwards has built her substantial reputation on producing silky, voluptuous Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley, but she’s also a master of this white varietal, expertly crafting a wine that’s equally textural and hedonistic. Hearty in fig and lychee fruit, it also has a floral component. It’s an ideal wine for spicy Chinese noodles and salads, and rich and creamy enough to stand up to fish dishes and stir-fried garlic scallops.

Then try:

Casey Flat Ranch 2012 Open Range California Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
Made by up-and-coming Napa-based winemaker Laura Barrett, the wine is a steal for its high quality. Grapes were sourced from throughout the North Coast, including the Casey Flat Ranch in Capay Valley, as well as Lake and Mendocino counties. Slightly herbal with balanced layers of grapefruit, tropical fruit and lemon, it has acidity and structure to spare. Pair it with fresh oysters, or long noodles and leafy greens, two good-luck foods.

Brut Rosé for Valentine’s Day

If you like:

Inman Family 2009 Russian River Valley Brut Rosé Nature Sparkling “Endless Crush” ($68)
Disgorged in September 2012, Kathleen Inman’s sparkling brut rosé is made from her estate OGV Pinot Noir grapes. It makes for a romantic sharing à deux, inspired by Inman’s own 25th wedding anniversary. A wine of great depth, brightness and personality, it tastes of fresh-picked strawberries and cherries, with a streak of citrus and brioche right out of the oven.

Then try:

J Vineyards & Winery Russian River Valley Brut Rosé ($38)
A salmon-hued bubbly resplendent in strawberry and brioche flavors, this is another wonderful wine for Valentine’s Day: soft and dry, with Meyer lemon and lime tones from the small amount of Chardonnay blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Crisp acidity provides a steady backbone and superb refreshment.

Rhone White Blends for Groundhog Day

If you like:

Sheldon 2012 Sonoma Coast Vinolocity Blanc ($30)
Grenache Blanc with smaller percentages of Viognier and Roussanne, Vinolocity is flinty with lime and green apple, a streak of spice and ripe peach and pear notes peeking through. Fermented in stainless steel, it’s dry, layered and made in very small quantities; get yours now.

Then try:

Bump 2011 Fortune Sonoma Valley White Wine ($20)
Bump’s first bottling of a white Rhone-inspired blend is comprised of Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc, grown in a vineyard near the town of Sonoma. The wine is very floral in aroma; in the glass, there are hints of Meyer lemon and honey.

Zinfandel for Cozy Meals, Super Bowl Parties

If you like:

Beltane Ranch 2012 Sonoma Valley Estate Zinfandel ($44)
The family behind the Glen Ellen bed-and-breakfast broke into the wine business a few years ago with an estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc, using grapes it once sold to the likes of Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley. In late 2013, Beltane released its first Zinfandel, with spicy blackberry and leathery tannins. It’s still a baby, showing tremendous potential to age.

Then try:

Quivira 2011 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($22)
Quivira’s “starter” Zinfandel tastes deliciously of its appellation, accessible in its soft layers of spice and brambly plum and blackberry fruit. With plenty of balancing acidity, especially from a cool vintage, it’s ready to be paired with a wide range of dishes, including pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and Super Bowl barbecue.

Syrah for Slow-Braised Meats

If you like:

Failla 2011 Estate Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Syrah ($62)
A classic, cool-climate Northern Rhone-style Syrah, this wine is a savory study in pepper and tobacco personality, with the notion of fruit a mere suggestion. Smelling and tasting much like roasted meat itself, it will happily accompany more, whether it’s slow-braised or roasted beef, pork, venison, lamb or duck. No matter the meal, what you’ll remember most is this bottle.

Then try:

People’s Wine Revolution 2011 Moon & Sun Massa Ranch Yountville Syrah ($18)
Made from organically grown grapes by Matt Reid, the former custom-crush winemaker at Failla, this Syrah generously imparts a grind of black pepper and briary black and blue fruit, making it a good wine to pair with hearty wintertime meats slathered in mushrooms and bacon, or midweek slow-cooker pork tenderloin.

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