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Drinks: Toasting Christopher Columbus

Columbus Day calls for Italian wines. Actually, most of the year calls for them. Look for these ripe reds.

The plummy 2009 Bertani Valpolicella ($15) is a refreshing, food-friendly wine from an excellent producer in northeast Italy. Tuscany brings you the ruby-shaded, berry-filled 2008 Barone Ricasoli Campo Ceni Toscana ($15), full-bodied but easygoing. They're right with antipasti, hot or cold.

Barone Ricasoli's 2007 Brolio Chianti Classico ($24), round and inviting, is a fine sangiovese, with a hint of black fruit. The lively 2007 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico ($29) offers a harvest of cherries. Have red-sauced pastas.

The bright 2006 Marchesi de Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina ($21) delivers generous flavors of raspberry and plum. It's ideal with red meat. Frescobaldi's 2008 Remole ($10) is a fruity, crisp bargain.

Gattinara is a full, often elegant wine from Piedmont. It's made with nebbiolo, the grape of Barolo. Try the smooth 2004 Travaglini Gattinara ($30), a concentrated, red-fruit winner with a long finish. More complex, intense and a bit earthy is the 2001 Travaglini Gattinara "Tre Vigne" ($49), a terrific match with steak or lamb, Parmesan or Gorgonzola.

A grilled T-bone or a soulful stew pairs with the 2006 Marchesi de' Frescobaldi Mormoreto ($65), an outstanding blend, primarily cabernet sauvignon, with spice and vanilla notes.


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