$15 or less
WHAT : Altos Las Hormigas Malbec (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE : Mendoza, Argentina
WHY : Here's another example of how booze brings the world together. This wine is made by Italians from the French Auxerrois grape, which is now the leading variety in Argentina, where it's called Malbec. This one packs a nice dry punch for the price and would be a perfect match for grilled beef á la Argentina.
PRICE : 750 ml/$13.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of November 11 (product #640490)
WHAT : Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage 2003 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE : Rhone Valley, France
WHY : Even though the heat of 2003 makes the vintage atypically ripe, this is still an admirably restrained bottle, especially if you've been drinking lots of big Australians and Californians. More of a purring cat than a tail-wagging dog, it's a tasty introduction to the Rhone, the region the Syrah grape calls home.
PRICE : 750 ml/$16.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of November 11 (product #572230)
Sips and nips
WHAT : Wellington Arkell Best Bitter Rating: NNN
WHERE : Guelph
WHY : Wow! Where were the focus groups when they came up with the name Bitter? That's just negative. How about Rebelz? In the meantime, if you're looking for a locally made version of the popular English ale, check out the Arkell. It sparkles with hoppy "bitterness" and is refreshingly light at a defiant but stylistically correct 4 per cent alcohol.
PRICE : 12 X 341 ml/$21.95
AVAILABILITY : At the Beer Store