If Christopher Columbus had stored very good Italian wine onboard, he might have had a less rebellious crew. But things worked out. To celebrate his voyages, uncork a few bottles of vino.
VOVETI Prosecco ($17) starts the partying with good bubbles and fresh, peachy flavor. It's a fine aperitif and goes with classic antipasti, from prosciutto onward. Tasty with spicy Asian dishes, too.
Arneis is a white wine grape from Piedmont. Sample the medium-bodied 2010 Ceretto Blangè Langhe Arneis ($28), a fruity wine with a suggestion of pear. Arneis is ideal with your last pesto sauce, as well as beef carpaccio, seafood salad and light preparations of shellfish and finfish.
Versatility defines the 2008 Castelli di Volpaia Chianti Classico ($24), a lively and gutsy sangiovese with splashes of merlot and syrah. Terrific with red-sauced pastas and a lot more. A more elegant red: the 2005 Castelli di Volpaia Balifico ($57), a ripe union of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon, and a silky berried, red-meat wine.
In the Northeast, where white wines reign, you also will find lagrein, a red wine grape. The 2007 Elena Walch Lagrein Riserva 'Castel Ringberg' ($32) is a harmonious, garnet-hued wine from the Südtirol-Alto Adige. Good structure, good fruit, a match for grilled meat.
More complex, oakier, minerally, with hints of blackberry and spice is another lagrein, the 2007 Terlano Porphyr Lagrein Riserva ($55). Here's big red to complement a rich beef or lamb stew, steak au poivre, and the first venison of the season. You'll be ready to set sail.