The Balletto Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, is an old friend who drops in out of the blue, regales the table with tales of benevolent conquest, charms the hell out of your lover, and leaves you with a deep look in the eye, a Roman handshake, and a secret that will lead to your good fortune.

This Pinot is made of bramble berries and dried stone fruit, easy on the palate and pocketbook ($22), and suitable sipping for all occasions but particularly those of the informal social variety (dinner party, new spa, tennis?).

The deep garnet color will remind you of the gem in your favorite uncle’s class ring. This and the subtle salinity at the tip of the tongue, will bring to mind the charming and burly rogues in your life, who acquired refinement and distinction on life’s hoary path. Who wouldn’t want such a guest at the table, especially since it’s as generous as its shoulders broad – this wine just keeps giving, pairing well with usual suspects like pork and lamb but quietly robust enough to lean into a filet mignon as the situation requires. But this wine stands on its own just fine too, which is a great way to get to know it.

The Pinot sets a baseline for conversation – elevated, saucy, and rife with reminiscences, even if they’re from only 15 minutes prior. Drink with friends or alone while thumbing through pictures and making notes for your memoir. What may sound pathetic in pixels is quite exhilarating in practice. Pour it deep and let rivulets spill down the glass and leave it’s mark on your Moleskine. Later, when reading aloud anecdotes of love and life, it’ll look like the lipstick kiss on the fly page of your favorite lost book…And taste as good as the reason it was there in the first place.

Takeaways: Balletto Vineyards

Drink with friends or make friends with this bottle and drink alone. If you’re tooling around West Sonoma County, visit Balletto Vineyards,  they’re waiting for you.