$15 or less
WHAT: Tortoise Creek Syrah (white) Rating: NNN
WHERE: Languedoc, France
WHY: Here and there on the shelves of the everyday liquor store sit some unheralded but worthwhile bottles. This Syrah is one of them. True to the style, it isn't an obvious backslapper of a wine. But over the course of an evening (slow wins the race) it will come out of its shell.
PRICE: 750 ml/$13.30
AVAILABILITY: At selected liquor stores (product #32680)
WHAT: Laurent Miquel Viognier Nord Sud 2006 (white) Rating: NNNN
WHERE: St. Chinian, France
WHY: A very pleasant gateway into the world of Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-nyay). This expressive grape, usually described with terms like honeysuckle, peach and even wax, is a real favourite with oenological types. Here you can see why: different, complex but refreshing.
PRICE: 750 ml/$18.95
AVAILABILITY: At selected Vintages outlets as of August 18 (product #673236)
Sips and Nips
WHAT: Pabst Blue Ribbon Rating: NN
WHY: Black Horse, 50, Molson Stock Ale and let us not forget Black Label. What do these all have in common? They've all been reverse snob beers, beers you pick for their obscurity, old-school branding or working-class cred. PBR (as the reverse snobs call it) is the slumming beer of the 21st century. Ironic, considering it's made by snobby Sleeman's.
PRICE: 12 x 355 ml/$15.95 (cans only)
AVAILABILITY: At the Beer Store.