Smart Wine Splurges
Grilled Texas Rib Eye
Chocolate Soufflés with Crème Anglaise
Pairing: 2007 Croft Vintage Porto ($80)
Have a kid born in 2007? Buy some '07 port. Drink it when you're done paying for college.
Striped Bass with Sweet Carrots and Cider Glaze
Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Caviar and Dill Cream
Pairing: 2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne ($150)
DP is as good as it's reputed to be, and in the superb 2002 vintage, it's even better than that.
Basil-Crusted Leg of Lamb with Lemon Vinaigrette
Pairing: 2007 Domaine Paul Autard Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($45)
This was an off-the-charts-luscious vintage. Yet Autard—known to Rhône lovers but few others—keeps his wines nuanced even in superripe years.
Honey Mustard Chicken
Pairing: 2008 Hartford Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($35)
Though some wine pros disagree, wines above 15.5 percent alcohol can be balanced.
Pairing: 2007 Dominus ($130)
A terrific wine from a rare California Cabernet vineyard farmed without irrigation. In a state that just had three back-to-back drought years, that's a good thing.