I’d finished a couple glasses of water and eaten my way through half a bowl of nuts when it became obvious that I’d been stood up for a business drink. I sat on my barstool at New York’s Gramercy Tavern and debated whether I should just head home. Knowing nothing about it, I ordered a glass of Leonardo Bussoletti’s 05035 ciliegiolo, which instantly endeared itself to me. It was buoyant, energetic and everything red, somewhere between off-the-stem tart Montmorency cherries and the inimitable cherry pie I eat every summer in northern Michigan.

Ever since that first taste six years ago, I’ve been on Team Ciliegiolo. After riding the tidal wave of completely enjoyable, light and juicy glou-glou wines, it feels like a win—especially at this time of year—to find a medium-bodied red wine that can still take a chill, but that is a little more commanding at the dinner table…..