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Wines to Match Your Wallet

Lee Harrelson
When it comes to cutting corners, one thing you don't need to forfeit is good wine.

Consider the way wine can enhance a simple meal or mark an enjoyable close to the day, and you could even argue the occasional glass of wine is more necessity than luxury – especially with deals like these. By looking for wines that offer far more flavor than their price tags suggest, there's always a wine to fit your daily budget.

Weekday Wines: (Under $10)
Enjoy these anytime – at home with casual meals or even pizza. Some of the best rock-bottom values are coming from Australia and South America. Also look for wines that blend together several different grapes or vintages, giving the winemaker a greater palate of flavors.

We like:

The Little Penguin Chardonnay 2008 (Australia, $7)
Crisp apple and pear with hints of nutmeg and spice lead to a lively finish

Acordeón Malbec 2008 (Argentina, $9)
Robust flavors of black plum, vanilla, toasty oak and baking spices

Frey Organic Natural Red non-vintage (California, $9)
A fruity, medium-bodied blend of organic Carignane, Zinfandel and Syrah

Alice White Chardonnay 2008 (Australia, $8)
Ripe tropical fruit and citrus, with a medium-body and touch of creaminess

Palo Alto Reserve 2008 (Chile, $10)
Berries, mint, smoke, tobacco and black olive aromas turn smooth on the palate

Dinner Guest: (Under $15)
These wines measure up to the extra effort you put forth for guests and special meals. All of them are medium-bodied, versatile and food-friendly, so they'll go with the greatest variety of occasions.

We like:

Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut Cava (Spain, $12)
Champagne fizz on a beer budget! Brisk and lightly bready with lively citrus

Emiliana Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Chile, $11)
Gooseberry and chive aromas with zesty lemon-lime and electric acidity

Banfi Centine Toscana 2008 (Italy, $12)
Supple on the palate with lively cherry, mixed berry and earthy notes

Montes Merlot Classic 2008 (Chile, $12)
Ripe plum fruit is nicely balanced with vanilla, toasty oak and spice with soft tannins

Cupcake Vineyards Riesling 2008 (Washington, $14)
Apricot and kiwi fruit with hints of honeysuckle and a dry, minerally finish

Weekend Splurge: (Under $20)
Locate the best deals from more prestigious regions for entertaining or bringing to a dinner party. In today's competitive market, even traditionally pricier regions like Napa, Piedmonte and Rioja offer value-priced wines.

We like:

Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California, $17)
Ripe currant and berry fruit is silky on the palate, finishing with vanilla and spice

Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva 2004 (Spain, $20)
Aromas of dill, earth and oak lead to a mature palate of cherry fruit

Vionta Albariño 2008 (Spain, $18)
Crisp and snappy with yellow and green apple turning citrussy and refreshing

Rancho Zabaco Sonoma County Zinfandel 2007 (California, $18)
Rich, ripe and loaded with peppery spice, black licorice and smoky fruit

Boroli Barbera d'Alba Quattro Fratelli 2007 (Italy, $17)
Red raspberry fruit and warming spice with fine, but firm, tannins