$15 or less
WHAT : Domaine Jean Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE : Tupungato, Argentina
WHY : Happy birthday to it. This Cab Sauv was just being born exactly three years ago, so let's celebrate. In wine-speak, it's fruit-forward with good acidity. In English, it's not too sour but will deal well with most of the food you choose to throw at it. The bouquet's combination of fruits, minerals and a touch of charcoal indicates a pleasing level of sophistication at this price. Does your three-year-old behave this nicely?
PRICE : 750 ml/$12.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of April 15 (product #678813)
WHAT : Taurino Salice Salentino Riserva Rosso 2001 (red) Rating: NNNN
WHERE : Puglia, Italy
WHY : Wine guru Hugh Johnson suggests, contrarily, that we match the powerfully styled Amarone della Volpolicella with Indian food. This southern red, made primarily with the Negroamaro grape, could do the same trick at a lower price. It's got enough presence up front to stand up to the spice onslaught of a good Moghul feast and would be a worthy match for other big flavours, too.
PRICE : 750 ml/$16.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of April 15 (product #411892)
Sips and Nips
WHAT : El Dorado Demerara 5-Year-Old Rum Rating: NNNN
WHERE : Demerara, Guyana
WHY : You've just come back from your Caribbean vacation, and it's not going well. Your job's still crap, your apartment's still a mess, and you've still got a muffin top spilling over your low-risers. Let's revisit your happy place with El Dorado rum. This dark Demerara rum (as in Demerara sugar) is robust yet smooth. Five years in oak barrels rounds the edges and yields a great sipper or mixer.
PRICE : 750 ml/$21.85, on sale until April 23
AVAILABILITY : At selected liquor stores (product #894014)