$15 or less
WHAT: Domaine de Berland Merlot (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE: Carcassonne, France
WHY: The March 17 Vintages release features Merlots. Here's the most affordable of the bunch, made by the famous brothers Lurton. The notes on the back of the bottle describe it thusly: "You will appreciate its fruty [sic] in accompaniment to appetizer, picnic and most of meats." Couldn't have said it better myself.
PRICE: 750 ml/$13.95
AVAILABILITY: At selected Vintages outlets (product #027979)
WHAT: Yarden Mount Hermon 2005 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE: Golan Heights, Israel
WHY: Passover's just around the corner, so make sure you've got something kosher to quaff. This Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend is entirely drinkable: fruity bouquet, medium-light texture, good structure.
PRICE: 750 ml/$17.35
AVAILABILITY: At selected liquor stores (product #611293)
Sips and nips
WHAT: Batasiolo Moscato d'Asti 2006 Rating: NNNN
WHERE: Piedmont, Italy
WHY: I can't help remembering my primary school sweetheart when I taste this: bright, bubbly, sweet and low in alcohol. Our happiest hours were during Orff band practice, but traditional wisdom recommends Moscati d'Asti with dessert or a leisurely breakfast.
PRICE: 750 ml/$17.95
AVAILABILITY: At selected Vintages outlets (product #028175)