Food & Drink

Bargain wines not short on quality

The Christmas decorations are coming down, gifts are being enjoyed, returned or exchanged, and the potential for post-holiday blues — and bills — is beginning to sink in.

Many of us seem to do a little “belt tightening” during January, and if you enjoy wines there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be a bit cost-conscious and still treat yourself to a good bottle of wine.

There are some really, really good bargains on wines right now, and with a little searching you can easily find some nice selections for $10 a bottle or less. Let me offer a few suggestions:

The Santa Rita 2006 120 sauvignon blanc (about $8) has already hit the shelves and is an outstanding buy. This deliciously complex Chilean white wine is chock full of citrus and herbaceous flavors, with an underlying layer of fresh peaches on the finish. Great with shellfish, seafood, poultry, or all on its own by the glass.

Another tasty treat is the Cycles Gladiator 2004 merlot (about $9) from Central California. It’s loaded with ripe, black cherry and plum flavors that blend into a long, silky finish. The winery also produces a 2004 syrah for about the same price.

And finally, the Sagelands Vineyard 2003 Four Corners cabernet sauvignon (about $8 to $10) is an excellent cabernet for this price range. Filled with ample cherry flavors, touches of dark chocolate and a good measure of tannins for a bit of structure, this Columbia Valley wine is a great example of how easy it is to get a nice bottle of wine without spending a bundle.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

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