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.

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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.