What : La Scolca Gavi Il Valentino 2004 (white) Rating: NNN
Where : Piedmont, Italy
Why : Gavi 101: it's made from Cortese grapes; it's made in Piedmont, near Turin - you know, the Olympics host city; and La Scolca put it on the map. While the Valentino may be less of a wine than the reputation that precedes it, it's still got lots of refreshing liveliness and would be a worthy choice if you feel you're in a Chardonnay rut.
Price : 750 ml/$14.95
Availability : February 18 at selected Vintages outlets (product #670760)
What : Arrowood Pinot Blanc Saralee's Vineyard 2002 (white) Rating: NNNN
Where : Russian River Valley, California
Why : Here's a delicious white from a respected California vintner who still calls the shots despite being purchased by über-winery Mondavi in 2000. The bouquet has an almost candy-like quality, and the wine is soft but not flabby. Not cheap - but this bottle riding shotgun for a couple of lobsters? That's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Price : 750 ml/$34.95
Availability : February 18 at selected Vintages outlets (product #694307)
Sips and nips
What : Centennial 10 Year Old Rye Whisky. Rating: NNN
Where : Alberta
Why : Next to Scotch and bourbon, Canadian whisky gets no respect. But some in the industry are attempting to change that. So here you have Highwood's Centennial upping the presentation bar with its sleek, tall bottle and composite cork stopper. The whisky itself is light and floral. It might get lost in the ginger ale, but straight up it's a well-mannered tipple.
Price : 750 ml/$23.95
Availability : At selected LCBO stores (product #387209)