Meet the Grape: If you’ve heard that white Riojas are all the rage, that’s because wines from the Spanish grape Viura can be excitingly aromatic and complex in the hands of the right producer. Good versions smell of wildflowers, green apples and nuts and have medium acidity. The less stellar ones are blandly fruity, but drinkable. Outside of Rioja, the grape is called Macabeo, and is blended with Parellada and Xarel-lo to make the sparkling Spanish wine Cava.
To V or not to V: What is vegetarian cuisine, exactly? I’m sure it doesn’t involve meat, but for all I know you could be ordering smoky blue cheese balls with toasted walnuts as an appetizer and a main course of protein nuggets in plum sauce. That’s why I like to play it safe and recommend a lean, floral white like Viura that lets you enjoy just about everything that falls under the term “vegetarian.”
Two Under Ten: The 2002 Monopole Blanco Seco for $7.99 is powerful, creamy and aromatic. If you’re in the mood for refreshment and sparkle, try a $5.99 Cristalino Cava Brut NV.