I would be tempted to call our Our Wine of the Week, Gloria Ferrer NV Sonoma Brut ($20), a workhorse if the name weren't a tad heavy for something as delightfully effervescent as sparkling wine.
But, really, that's just what this wine is; it pairs beautifully with so many foods and can carry nearly any meal featuring almost any type of cuisine from beginning to end.
With its attractive price, it is a good work-a-day wine, as welcome on, say, a Wednesday night dinner table as at a weekend party.
Among the qualities that make this wine a crowd pleaser is its generous warmth.
Fruit flavors come first, with small bubbles tickling the palate with hints of Asian pear, ripe apple and black cherry. Next comes toasted almonds, a quality that dissolves into a broad suggestion of toast: Think toasted brioche.
All along there is enough lively acid to conjure up citrus, especially lemon and tangerine, a quality that brings to mind the tangerine slices warmed on a hot radiator that M.F.K. Fisher wrote about so evocatively.
By pure coincidence, I had this wine with Thai food a few days before it was named Wine of the Week. It was excellent, especially with pork in green coconut curry.
The wine is perfect with oysters on the half shell, paella and cioppino. I plan to serve it alongside Dungeness crab fideos -- similar to paella but with short pieces of pasta instead of rice -- that I am developing for Christmas Eve dinner.
Its appeal, though, is certainly not limited to seafood or Thai food.
Pork loin, pastas in cream sauce, roasted root vegetables, creamy polenta with almost any topping or sauce, creamy wild mushroom soup: All will welcome this wine alongside.
Matches with this wine soar when there is a hint of smoke, from bacon, perhaps, or smoked fish. For today's recipe I've add a few personal flourishes to a classic holiday appetizer.
I like it best when I have smoked sturgeon but any good smoked fish will be delicious.
Potato Pancakes with Smoked Fish, Radishes &amp; Caviar Cream
Makes 4 to 6 servings
? cup creme fraiche
2 teaspoons finely minced red onion
2 small radishes, finely minced
-- Grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
2 teaspoons minced fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives, if available
2 to 3 tablespoons caviar of choice
-- Kosher salt
1? pounds potatoes, preferably dry-farmed
4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
-- Black pepper in a mill
6 tablespoons clarified butter, plus more as needed
6 to 8 ounces smoked fish of choice, at room temperature and broken into pieces (not too small)
1 or 2 radishes, cut in tiny wedges
Put the creme fraiche into a small bowl and stir it with a fork or small whisk until it loosens.
Stir in the onion, radish, lemon zest, parsley and chives, if using. Add the caviar and stir briefly; don't over mix.
Taste and correct for salt, if needed. Cover and refrigerate.
Fill a medium bowl half full with water and add a handful or two of ice cubes and a generous 2 tablespoons of salt. Set near your work surface.
Grate the potatoes on the large blade of a box grater, put them into the ice water and set aside for 20 minutes.