$15 or less
WHAT : Bouchard Pûre & Fils Beaujolais-Villages 2004 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE : Burgundy, France
WHY : Tricky French label; nowhere does it say that this wine is made with Gamay grapes. And don't confuse it with the three other wines from the same region that have "Beaujolais" in their name. But let us not tarry over epistomology. Throw it in the fridge just before you start the barbecue, wait till the chicken is smoking and start pouring this light and nicely defined red.
PRICE : 750 ml/$12.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected liquor stores (product #665448)
WHAT : Alsace Willm Riesling Reserve 2004 (white) Rating: NNN
WHERE : Alsace, France
WHY : Not so tricky French label; Alsatian labels pretty much just state the grape type and the location (Alsace). How very Californian. Alsatian Rieslings are fully fermented and therefore dry. This one has a pleasing declarative citrus tang and a good finish. Fish, of course, but how about macaroni and cheese?
PRICE : 750 ml/$15.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets (product #11452)
Sips and nips
WHAT : Smirnoff Fire (cooler) Rating: NN
WHERE : Quebec, Canada
WHY : Man, this stuff rocks. It's black and it's got 333 on the label and it's, like, you know, fiery. The cooler market has plateaued recently, so Smirnoff is actively catering to the unquenchable thirst of the 19-to-25-year-old male. It's got a bouquet of cough syrup, notes of grape C Plus and root beer and a provocative Dr. Pepper finish. Funnel this into a Pepsi bottle and you're good to go, dude.
PRICE : Four/355 ml/$9.45
AVAILABILITY : At most liquor stores (product #323)