Open a bottle of Italian wine as Columbus Day nears.

The great explorer and his crew might have enjoyed a refreshing glass of the 2012 Battistina Gavi ($17) or the light, easygoing 2012 Angelini Pinot Grigio ($11). The balanced, straightforward 2010 Masseria Li Veli "Primonero" Negroamaro Salento IGT ($10) also might be appealing.

But it's more likely they'd have welcomed the 2009 Piazzo Barbaresco ($30), a generous, warming Piedmontese red. The fine nebbiolo wine might not have complemented what was being served aboard the Santa Maria, but it will be fine with steak, osso buco, beef stew and mushroom risotto.

Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot contribute to the bracing 2008 Aia Vecchia "Sor Ugo" Bolgheri Rosso Superiore ($35), a potent, versatile blend with very good fruit and hints of spice. It's immediately accessible, and a satisfying choice to go with antipasti, cheeses and red meat.

The 2007 Palagetto Brunello di Montalcino ($60) enriches the festivities with an intense, focused sangiovese. It has a floral note and shows considerable structure and tannins. It's an ideal wine with a grilled steak, roast lamb, pasta Bolognese or marinara, and cheeses.

In a garnet hue, the full-bodied, harmonious 2008 Damilano Barolo Cannubi ($85) offers lush notes of plum, chocolate and especially cherry. The single-vineyard wine matured in oak barrels for two years. Concentrated, dry and ripe, this is a red ready for cold weather and short ribs, pasta with meat sauce, venison, lamb, cheeses and risotti. If you have any extra white truffles handy ...

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