$15 or less
WHAT: Rocca Ventosa Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (white) Rating: NNN
WHERE: Abruzzo, Italy
WHY: You may not be able to afford a house, but you can definitely afford this as your house wine. The Trebbiano grape does particularly well in Abruzzo. A civilized performer at the price: neutral, a little bit of peach, not overly dry. Cheap, drinkable whites are hard to find. This one does the job.
PRICE: 750 ml/$7.40
AVAILABILITY: At selected liquor stores (product #430249)
WHAT: Raimat Abadia 2003 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE: Lerida, Spain
WHY: Even though they work on a massive scale and grow non-native grapes like the Cabernet and Merlot that, along with Tempranillo, constitute Abadia, Raimat's wines are anything but pushovers. Pleasing depth and balanced tobacco and spice will reward those who like a firm hand. Good value.
PRICE: 750 ml/$15.95
AVAILABILITY: At selected Vintages outlets (product #935460)
Sips and Nips
WHAT: Sir Perry Pear Cider Rating: NN
WHERE: Bristol, England
WHY: Along with prawn cocktail-flavoured potato chips and the riveting spectacle of televised snooker, pear cider is another aspect of British culture that hasn't caught on with the rest of the world. If you're looking to change that, try Sir Perry. Pleasant in an innocuous, vaguely pearish way.
PRICE: 500 ml/$2.70
AVAILABILITY: At most liquor stores (product #8144)