Drinks: Celebrate Christopher Columbus

Cured meats and cheeses are among the essentials

Cured meats and cheeses are among the essentials that go with the celebratory 2007 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Oro. (Credit: Handout)

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It's uncertain whether 1492 was a very good vintage.

But you can be sure that a lot of what was in the barrels aboard Columbus' ships was fortified for a longer life by adding spirits to wine.

After all, these guys ate salt cod, hardtack, nuts, cheese -- basically, long-lived stuff.

Actually, Port still is a good partner for nuts and cheese. Try Graham's 10 Year Tawny ($34), which is fine after dinner and appealing almost anytime; and the easygoing Fonseca Bin 27 ($20), in an artist-series bottling.

You also could celebrate Columbus with Italian whites and reds.

Since pinot grigio reigns in the market for its versatility and go-to style, consider the 2011 Banfi Le Rime ($9), a floral choice that, of course, is right with seafood.

Cured meats and cheeses are among the essentials that go with the celebratory 2007 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Oro, a ripe and refined wine, first made in 1947. The 60th anniversary edition of this sangiovese is about $48.

There's 25 percent sangiovese and 75 percent merlot in the excellent 2009 Marchesi de'Frescobaldi Lucente ($30), a round, full-bodied red. It delivers a harvest of cherry and strawberry, along with notes of anise and pepper. Fine with beef, tuna, swordfish, red-sauced pasta.

And, a great wine to salute the seaman who first spotted land: the big, intense 2008 Luce from Marchesi de'Frescobaldi. This is a wonderful wine, with finesse and a long finish. The 55-45 merlot-sangiovese split is a match for lush risotti and pasta Bolognese. Luce is perfect with Parmesan and prosciutto. About $90.

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