I love Alsatian whites because they manage to be both crowd-pleasers and complex, usually with a tease of fruity sweetness (and sometimes spice) on the nose, but most often completely dry when you take a sip. This 2012 Crustaces from Dopff & Irion is an amazing sub-$10 value that proves the point. Blended with 90 percent of the noble Alsatian grape called Sylvaner, plus a touch of richer Pinot Blanc, the wine smells like Bosc pears and lemon zest, but is crisp, tart, and mineraly to drink. The shellfish floating across the label give you the right idea - this slender-necked Alsace bottle would be perfect with poached shrimp, crab cocktail, or gravlax. But at this case-friendly rate, discounted $4 by the jolly Chairman in Pa., you'll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting party starter for the price no matter what you're serving.
- Craig LaBan
Dopff & Irion Crustaces Alsace 2012, $8.99 in Pennsylvania (code 32914.)