Archive for the ‘Alcohol’ Category

Giving Spirits

Humanitas Wines
‘Tis the season to buy people presents and to give to charity. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

Humanitas Wines gives 20% of your wine’s purchase price to a charity you choose from the company’s approved list, which includes Habitat for Humanity.

Humanitas is a unique winery with a very compelling story. Simply we make wine, sell it, and give the profits to charity!

Specifically, the profits go to find solutions to three very primary issues — hunger, affordable housing and illiteracy — and we’ve chosen America’s Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and Reading is Fundamental as our primary charities. However, we try to support whatever charity best addresses these issues community by community.

You see, at Humanitas, we don’t give the funds to the national headquarters of these charities. Rather, we give to the regional chapters in the communities where the wine was sold. In this way, by enjoying Humanitas, you are giving back to your own community!

Wines start at $18 per bottle. You can also join one of their wine clubs and give even more back! Check out the complete charity list here.

So wine with a charity is cool and all, but how does it taste you ask? According to LENNDEVOURS

Humanitas 2006 ‘Oak Free’ Monterey Chardonnay ($16) – is a fine example of why I love unoaked chardonnay so much. The nose offers lemon, apple, and a faint hint of pineapple. On the palate, it is medium bodied and shows loads of apple flavor with just the most subtle tropical notes. There is just enough acidity to bring balance. All in all, this is a nice wine, and this definitely isn’t your typical flabby, over-oaked Cali chardonnay. 490 cases were produced.

Humanitas 2006 Monterey Sauvignon Blanc ($14) – is fresh and delicious. It’s fairly simple, but the clean, pure grapefruit and mandarin orange flavors are well balanced by acidity in a medium-bodied package. At $14 — and with screw cap closures — this is a terrific house white. Fewer than 300 cases were produced.

Ready to buy a bottle for your friends and family or your Secret Santa? Head over to Humanitas Wines and order up some bottles. You’ll be getting people drunk and giving to a charity at the same time. What more could you want?

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Six Pack Wine Rack

6-pack Wine

This holiday season, spread the joy with giving a friend alcohol. Lots of it. 6 bottles of wine in fact. And to do so, pick up one of these Six Pack Wine Racks from Elsewares.

Made from naturally renewable and recyclable materials, this wine rack holds up to six standard wine bottles and collapses flat for easy storage (or gift-wrapping!). 100% wool felt. 100% awesome. Made in Massachusetts with European wool. Approximately 17″ x 5″ when flat.

It ships the week of 11/20 and gift wrapping is available for $5. The Six Pack Wine Rack will cost ya $40.

Dude! You’re getting a drink!

Dell

Remember this guy? He was that really annoying slacker/stoner spokesperson for Dell.

Apparently he did a bunch of these commercials, then he got busted for weed in 2003 and then took up off-Broadway acting. And now? Well according to AdFreak via New York Mag…

Ben’s behind the bar at Greenwich Village’s Tortilla Flats, a place known for its raucous bingo night and 2 a.m. happy hour, if my foggy memory serves. The good news: He’s in a better place. “There were times when I made boatloads of money as an actor, but here I can be myself,” he says.

There’s a short interview posted on New York Mag’s Grub Street site. Apparently he gets recognized every day.

Well, if you happen to be in the area and want to run up to the bar and do your best “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” impression, here’s the address:

767 Washington St., New York, NY 10014
at 12th St.
212-243-1053

Photo from Grub Street (Melissa Hom).

WineM – The Visual Wine Organizer

WineM

WineM by ThingM is being unveiled at Wired’s NextFest and it a pretty genius idea. It might be a little much for personal use, but it’d be a great interactive wine cellar for a restaurant or wine store.

The rack uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to track and update wines in real time. Watch the video for a better explanation, but you pretty much use a pad to select the combination of wine you’re looking for (ie., by year, region, color, etc.) and the RFID lights accordingly.

According to their press release

WineM solves the problem of remembering all the information about the wines in a large wine rack, cellar or cabinet, or searching through that data. This smart wine rack makes that information always accessible and updatable. With WineM identifies the wines of a certain class, and where they are in the rack, without requiring users to consult paper wine logs or spreadsheets. A bottle can never be misfiled, and a wine rack organizer no longer has to choose a single organizational scheme. The wine in a collection can now be dynamically reorganized by any combination of year, region, price, or any other information axis that interests the collector or sommelier.

For example, a collector planning a dinner party could specify they want to see all of their 2003 Napa Chardonnays whose current market value exceeds $50. WineM will identify and light up just the bottles that match those criteria. ThingM co-founder and creative director Mike Kuniavsky explains, “A single bottle of wine exists as two kinds of objects, an informational object and a physical one. WineM unites these. It explores what everyday objects can be if computers and networks become ubiquitous, as we believe they soon will be. WineM’s unique cabinet is designed to make the process of selecting wine simple, elegant and entertaining, whether in your living room or your favorite restaurant.”

At the moment its just a prototype so keep your fingers crossed.

Check out the videos here and the ThingM site here.

REWARD: Beer For Life

Croucher Hef

The owners of a New Zealand brewery Croucher Brewery Co. just had their laptop stolen. They want their laptop back so bad that the reward for finding it and safely returning it is free beer. For life.

That’s about $18,000 in beerilicious fun. We asked Nigel, one of the owners, how many bottles was that as well as many other things about the laptop and their divine nectar.

Our production is a touch over 100,000 bottles per year. We are pretty small, but growing quickly. Our beer market has many similarities to the american beer market: near/virtual prohibition followed by dominance by a couple of massive brewers, followed by the growth and interest in the flavours of craft brewers. The american market is probably 15 years ahead of us, but our craft market is just starting to gain a toe hold.

We make fine handcrafted beer, and our signature is beer full of flavor, which puts us apart from the mainstream in this country. We produce a pale ale based on a new-world best bitter, a czech-styled pilsner, and ‘the hef’ a hefeweizen, a cloudy german wheatbeer. The hef has gained a bit of cult following helped by its catchy name [gotta love the bunnies], and the growing awareness and interest in wheatbeers here. (from Gizmodo)

If you happen to stumble upon a stolen laptop in New Zealand and want to take them up on their offer, contact them through their site.

Tasty Table

Tasty Table

Threadless is always a great place to buy cheap t-shirts, but it’s an even better place when those shirts are food-themed.

Designed by Kenny Wheeler, these “Tasty Table” shirts are a must for the foodie in your life. It might be hard to see but here are some of the elements featured: Ws for Wasabi, Av for Avocado, Mn for Moonshine, Pt for Port, and J for Jello. It’s actually very geared towards drinks and libations, although I can’t remember ever having a drink with avocado in it.

Pretty self explanatory, but this shirt is a periodic table of food. Guys shirts will cost ya $15 while girls shirts go for $17. Also available as a hoodie for $40.

Sizes run out quick so get yours today! Click here to buy yours.

Baseball’s Best Bars

Cask N’ Flagon

With baseball season winding down, why not drown your sorrows over how bad your team is doing at one of baseballs 10 best bars?

Here’s a list compiled by ESPN’s Josh Pahigian as seen on ESPN Sports Travel.

1. Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant
42 Central Park South, New York
Web site | City Guide

The theme of the lavishly decorated walls at Mickey Mantle’s harks back to baseball’s golden era. More than 300 pieces of memorabilia are on display, including the original plaque that hung at Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park to honor “The Mick” from 1969 to 1996 (at which time a full-sized monument replaced it).

Visitors also will find uniforms worn by Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson, along with stadium chairs from the original Yankee Stadium, a life-size cutout of Babe Ruth autographed by more than 150 big leaguers and a circa-1961 replica of old Yankee Stadium that covers 49 square feet and features working light towers, scoreboard and 64,000 molded-pewter seats.

“Because we’re in New York we don’t just have sports personalities as guests, but also celebrities who are sports fans,” said Bart Alexander, director of special events at Mantle’s.

“Some recent visitors include Yankees GM Brian Cashman, Mickey’s old teammates Moose Skowron and Joe Pepitone, Don Mattingly, Bob Costas, Jerry Springer, Chris Matthews of “Hardball,” Harry Smith of CBS News and football guys Dan Marino, Mike Ditka and Jimmy Johnson.”

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2. Cask ‘n Flagon
62 Brookline Ave., Boston
Web site | City Guide

In the shadows of Fenway Park’s Green Monster, Red Sox fans find sausage vendors, ticket scalpers and usually a long line of thirsty patrons waiting to get inside “The Cask.” The famous hangout, which is just a long foul ball from home plate, often accommodates as many as 5,000 patrons on a busy game day.

It dates back to an original opening in 1969 as a live-music club, which would feature Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and Boston’s own Aerosmith.

Over the years it morphed into a top-notch sports bar that now boasts an impressive array of Red Sox photos, including shots of Babe Ruth playing the tuba, Ted Williams being sworn into the Marine Corps, a baby-faced Roger Clemens looking every bit the wide-eyed rookie and a champagne-soaked Jim Lonborg celebrating with Carl Yastrzemski in the Boston clubhouse after the Sox clinched the 1967 pennant.

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3. Sluggers
3540 N. Clark St., Chicago
Web site | City Guide

As any fan who has visited Wrigleyville surely knows, an entire article could be written strictly about the top-10 sports bars in this special corner of the baseball universe – and there would still be plenty of worthy establishments left out.

Debates about the “best” sports bar in Wrigleyville often revolve around the Cubby Bear and Murphy’s Bleachers – time-honored haunts on Chicago’s North Side that deserve all the praise they receive.

For the sake of offering a differing opinion though, and because it’s the only joint in Wrigleyville that offers an indoor batting cage upstairs for patrons, the choice here is Sluggers, where fans can determine if they really do make more solid contact after they’ve had an Old Style or three.

In addition to the romper room upstairs, Sluggers has featured such celebrity bar tenders through the years as Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe, Goose Gossage and Minnie Minoso.

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4. Nemo’s
1386 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Web site | City Guide

Although the Tigers departed Tiger Stadium in 2000, relocating to Comerica Park, hard-core Tigers fans still return to their old stomping grounds on game day to visit Nemo’s bar and grill.

Maybe what lures fans is the framed front pages of old newspapers that hang on the tin walls to commemorate great moments in Tigers history, such as Kirk Gibson celebrating the 1984 World Series victory or Cecil Fielder rounding the bases after hitting his 50th homer in 1990. Or perhaps it’s the other terrific nostalgia. Or it could be its signature cheeseburgers.

How about the game-day transportation? A Motor City favorite for more than four decades, Nemo’s uses a fleet of converted school buses these days to shuttle patrons to and from games at Comerica. In fact, business owner Springstead is enjoying even greater success in the Comerica era than in the days of Tiger Stadium.

“We’ve got six buses now, and the crowds keep coming,” Springstead said. “The last three years have been the best we’ve ever had, and we’ve been here since 1965.”

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5. Lakefront Brewery
1872 N. Commercial St., Milwaukee
Web site | City Guide

What would a trip to Milwaukee be without paying a visit to one of the city’s breweries? And what would the Brewers be without their lovable, if drunken, mascot Bernie Brewer?

At Lakefront Brewery, baseball fans have the chance to both celebrate Milwaukee’s proud brewing tradition and honor this legendary hooligan with the handlebar mustache.

Lakefront, you see, is the place where Bernie Brewer’s original chalet and slide have resided since the Milwaukee nine departed County Stadium for Miller Park.

Lakefront president Russ Klisch purchased the old prop from the team shortly after the move and happily installed it along his extremely popular brewhouse tour. Visitors will observe that many members of the Brewers have autographed the old apparatus, perhaps none more famous than the team’s quartet of racing sausages.

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6. Ozzie’s Restaurant & Sports Bar
645 Westport Plaza, St. Louis
Web site | City Guide

The St. Louis hot spot named after the best defensive shortstop of all time offers more than 50 TVs, St. Louis-style toasted raviolis and walls decorated with Cardinals jerseys and photos. What more could a baseball fan want? (Don’t answer that, Cubs fans.)

One entire wall chronicles Ozzie Smith’s induction day at Cooperstown, while nearby a tall, glass trophy case shows off all 13 of his Gold Gloves.

As owner Ray Gallardo explained, Ozzie’s was the place to be for any Cardinals fans who didn’t have tickets to Busch Stadium on the night the Cards won their 10th world championship on Oct. 27, 2006.

“The day was originally supposed to be an off day,” Gallardo said, “but then (Game 4) was rained out on Wednesday and all of a sudden there was a game on Friday.”

Consequently, the Game 5 World Series clincher against the Tigers took place on a day Ozzie’s had slated months earlier for its 18th anniversary party. A throng of fans turned out to watch the game alongside such baseball luminaries as Willie McGee, Whitey Herzog, Reggie Jackson and Ozzie Smith himself. And when Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge to give the Red Birds their first championship in 24 years, they all went wild.

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7. Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum
323 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Mo.
Web site | City Guide

Less than a 20-minute drive north from Kauffman Stadium fans will find what is considered the most impressive collection of sports memorabilia housed in any bar or restaurant in the United States.

Since opening in 1986, Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum has steadily expanded its collection to the point that it now includes more than 10,000 items.

The place is a labor of love for owner Jim Chappell, a longtime friend of former Kansas City and Oakland A’s owner Charlie O. Finley. Chappell delights in leading first-time visitors from wall to wall, while providing background information about his collection’s most interesting artifacts.

The top attraction at Chappell’s is thought to be the 1974 World Series trophy Finley’s rough-and-tumble Oakland A’s won against the Dodgers. There also are balls autographed by Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Dizzy Dean, as well as impressive collections of old jerseys, pennants and photographs.

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8. Sports Column
1930 Blake St., Denver
Web site | City Guide

Located in an old, brick warehouse just “96 steps” from Coors Field, the Sports Column is the finest of the many fine sports bars in Denver’s LoDo (Lower Downtown) district.

Since opening the day before the Rockies christened Coors Field in 1995, it has featured an expansive bar with plenty of TVs, walls laden with memorabilia and jerseys and a rooftop patio where patrons can fill their lungs with crisp, Rocky Mountain air while sipping pints of microbrew.

During the summer months, this is as lively a pre and postgame scene as fans will find anywhere in baseball. And the mouthwatering Rockie Burger — a sandwich that comes piled high with chicken tenders, ham, bacon, barbecue sauce and cheddar and Swiss cheese — is a true original.

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9. Bobby V’s Sports Gallery Cafe
4301 S. Bowen Road, Arlington, Texas
Web site | City Guide: Dallas

Although he now toils for the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League, where he’s considered the most successful foreigner ever to lead a Japanese team, Bobby Valentine’s presence is still felt in Arlington, where he skippered the Texas Rangers from 1985 -1992.

One of two Bobby V’s – the other is in Valentine’s hometown of Stamford, Conn. – this neighborhood grill is absolutely plastered with memorabilia, and not just on the walls but the bar and tables, too.

Each table, including those within the elevated boxing ring in the center of the restaurant, is topped with old baseball cards, ticket stubs and game programs beneath a film of lamination.

The atmosphere is warm and cozy, the TVs are plentiful and the food is quite good. The Tex-Mex Bobby Bajita fajita plate, chili in a bread bowl, ostrich burger and fried pickles are all house specials, as are the wraps – and with good reason.

In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction baseballesque moment, in 1980, shortly after his playing career ended, Valentine opened his first restaurant in Stamford, Conn., and claims to have invented the now ubiquitous sandwich wrap that we find at lunch counters across the country.

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10. McCovey’s Restaurant
1444 N. California Blvd., Walnut Creek, Calif.
Web site | City Guide: San Francisco | City Guide: Oakland

Just a half-hour drive across San Francisco Bay from AT&T Park, and an even shorter ride from Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum, baseball fans find a festive hardball haven that offers a wealth of memorabilia and a colossal, 44-ounce mound of ground Angus beef dubbed the 521 Burger.

The juicy behemoth honors the 521 home runs restaurant namesake and frequent visitor Willie McCovey hit during a 22-year career spent mostly with the Giants.

In addition to sporting a slew of TVs tuned to whatever games are taking place, the walls display autographed jerseys, bats and photographs. Top attractions include the National League home run champion trophy McCovey was awarded after belting 44 long balls for the Giants in 1963, a ball signed by Satchel Paige in 1934 and a photo of McCovey posing with Johnny Carson.

In addition to McCovey, who usually dines in the private “McCovey Room,” sports celebs including Tony La Russa, Joe Montana, Chris Mullen, Bob Uecker and Chris Webber have been known to stop by for a meal.

Photo from Flickr.

HMS Bounty

Bounty

by Anthony Vargas

The HMS Bounty in Koreatown remains my favorite spot for pre-concert dinner and drinks, despite the fact that Wilshire Boulevard is no longer the music and entertainment mecca it once was.

Located off the lobby of the Gaylord Apartments, the HMS Bounty is a throwback to the days of red leather booths and very dim lighting. The theme is nautical and the crowd is a mix of old time white residents on one side of the bar, middle-aged Korean men on the other and hipsters who can’t afford apartments in Silver Lake seated at the booths munching on hamburgers or fish and chips.

The menu is simple: sandwiches, steaks, fish and salads. The bar is heavy-handed, so ordering a mixed drink is advisable over beer or wine. The galley has really surprised me on numerous occasions and the staff has always been accommodating.

The chicken noodle soup is a great starter, hearty and simple. The softness and texture of the chicken indicates that it has been slowly simmering. There is no instant soup to be found. The salads are rather disappointing, but I suppose that salads don’t hold too well with the ocean air.

The fish and chips were good and reliable, as is the surf and turf. For what you get, the prices are reasonable. Mr. Bligh’s Board, which is the sandwich listing, is a good way to go. Keep it simple, the ham sandwich is thickly sliced and served on a beautifully soft roll.

Our martinis arrived quickly and were cold. Suddenly, after a few sips and a couple of bites out of the minute steak, it became apparent why HMS Bounty is worth the drive. That very location, 70 years ago, was the epicenter of entertainment in Los Angeles. Across the street, 30-piece orchestras played at the Cocoanut Grove within the Ambassador Hotel. Just west, on the same block, was the original Brown Derby restaurant, serving its famous Cobb salads to the Rat Pack.

Wilshire Boulevard was once called the ‘Fifth Avenue of the West,’ although you really wouldn’t know it today. The HMS Bounty is one of the last reminders of a time where people drove to Wilshire for a night of music, dancing and drinking while Beverly Hills and Hollywood were mostly barren.

3357 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 385-7275

Close to: The Wiltern, The Stone, Little Temple, The Derby

Article courtesy of The Rockit News. Photo from Flickr.

Three Sheets

 Three Sheets

If you don’t happen to have an HDTV and Cable (sorry DirecTV fans), I highly suggest picking up this show on DVD.

Three Sheets has a loyal audience and is growing in popularity. It’s one of the most popular shows on MOJO HD, the all HD channel, and stars comedian Zane Lamprey as he tours the globe partaking in drinking traditions all over the world. Not only is it educational, but the show itself is a drinking game and by the end of the episode, Zane is quite drunk. When he wakes up in the morning he provides viewers with a local hang over cure.

In case you’re brand spanking new to the show, here’s some helpful info (thanks to IMDB) to make you feel at home.

  • Three Sheets is the first television show to be produced as a drinking game. When Zane drinks, you drink. First person to see the monkey makes someone else finish their drink. And when Zane talks about his friend, Steve McKenna, it’s a social (everyone drinks).
  • The drinking game was introduced in the Costa Rica episode.
  • Zane mentions his college buddy, Steve McKenna, in every episode.
  • The monkey, Pleepleus (plee-plee-us), seen in every episode, was a gift from Zane’s wife. She packed it in his suitcase on his first episode (Galway, Ireland). He puts it in every show to tell her he loves her.
  • Curtiss Marlowe, the Three Sheets cameraman, was a child actor, who appeared in Heathers, Silver Spoons and the TV movie The Shadow Box, directed by Paul Newman.
  • In the Czech Republic, Zane left Pleepleus (the monkey) in the beer bath. The Chodovar brewery FedExed it to Zane in Venice, where he opens the box during the show. That is why, in Croatia, the monkey only appears as a photo.
  • In Jamaica, the hangover cure was a ‘special tea’. The main ingredient of the tea was marijuana. After the segment, Zane was unable to shoot for the rest of the day. But he was reportedly very happy.

Still not convinced? Here’s some info direct from the MOJO site.

Can you say “I’m buying” in 12 languages? Embark on an international drinking tour with comedian Zane Lamprey, who takes you around the world to master local drinking customs. Zane drinks Brussels sprout-flavored beer in Belgium, a “Pint of Special” in Ireland and learns the hangover cures of Jamaica and Belize. It’s the ultimate pub crawl so get ready to lift your glasses and toast… Cheers! Slainte Mhath! Salud! Navdrovya!

  • According to French wine laws, it is forbidden to include the word “Champagne” in the title of sparkling wines, unless it is made in Champagne, France.
  • “Guaro” is a liquor or brandy made from sugar cane in Costa Rica. It is a shortened name for “aguardiente de cana”.
  • Three toasts are common in Belgium: Cheers, Sante (French) and Gezondheid (Dutch).
  • In Wales, the term “Pub” came from the Public Houses, where town folk would socialize and resolve disputes.
  • There are no restrictions on carrying alcohol in public in Jamaica.
  • As tequila ages it takes its color from the oak barrels in which it sits. The longer it ages, the darker the color.
  • The legal drinking age in Ireland is eighteen (18).
  • The national beer of Belize is Belikin. However, although there are 500,000 bottles manufactured every year, it is difficult to find outside of Belize. Only 24,000 bottles are exported a month and they are all exported to Los Angeles, CA.

Head over to the Three Sheets site to learn more and watch some clips of the show. You can also add Zane or Pleepleus as your friend on myspace.

I’m not sure if the DVD is available in stores, but you can order the show directly from their site at the MOJO HD shop. It’s a double disc set so you should be entertained for hours. It’ll cost ya $29.98.

Two Buck Chuck & $10 Wines

2 Buck

I don’t consider myself a wine connoisseur, but my palette is improving. That said, when buying a wine, I usually spend $8-$15 for what I consider to be a decent bottle just to keep around. But apparently I’ve been overspending.

Trader Joe’s famous “Two Buck Chuck” recently took the award for the top chardonnay at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

The connoisseurs may cringe, the snobs may even sob, but the judges have spoken: California’s best chardonnay costs less than $3.

Charles Shaw Chardonnay, better known as “Two Buck Chuck,” beat hundreds of other wines and was named the top prize in a prestigious tasting competition in California.

The affordable wine beat out 350 other California chardonnays to win the double gold. Second place went to an $18 bottle, and the most expensive wines at the event, at the price of $55, didn’t even medal. (from ABC News)

And in case you haven’t heard of Trader Joe’s or Two Buck Chuck, here’s some background from Wikipedia.

Charles Shaw is an American brand of “extreme value” wine produced in California.

These wines are currently Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and most recently Shiraz varietals and Valdigue in the style of Beaujolais nouveau,and Pinot Grigio in limited quanities all from California vineyards. They are distributed exclusively by Trader Joe’s grocery stores, and in California sell for $1.99. Because of this, the Charles Shaw wines are affectionately known as Two Buck Chuck.

Due to the three-tier system, in other states the price can go up to around $4. As such, the wine is often referred to as “Three Buck Chuck” or “Four Buck Chuck” relative to the price.

Charles Shaw is an example of the recent trend of economy-minded wine drinkers seeking the greatest value. In particular the brand stands out not only for the low cost, but also for the respectable packaging and semi-frequent high ratings at wine tasting events. For example, at the 28th Annual International Eastern Wine Competition, Shaw’s 2002 Shiraz received the double gold medal, besting the roughly 2,300 other wines in the competition. More recently, Shaw’s 2005 California chardonnay was judged Best Chardonnay from California at the 2007 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition. The chardonnay received 98 points, a double gold, with accolades of Best of California and Best of Class.If you don’t happen to live close to a TJ’s, don’t worry. Here’s a list of wines under $10 compiled from the NY Times, PJ Wine, and Fine Living that will help you find a great bottle of vino without breaking the bank.

Steenberg South Africa Sauvignon Blanc 2004, $8
Crisp, fresh, zesty and balanced, with unexpected depth. (Importer: Monsieur Touton Selections, New York)

J. Vidal-Fleury Côtes-du-Rhône 2001, $8
Earthy and balanced, with lingering fruit flavors and a great sense of place. (W. J. Deutsch & Sons, White Plains, N.Y.)

’05 Arzuaga Ribera del Duero “La Planta,” $8.99
A PJ’s Wine of the Week: The nose carries lovely notes of black cherry, dusted cocoa, warm vanilla bean and a suggestion of oak. The palate boasts exquisite black cherry and plum flavors with hints of smoky minerality and a dark, milk chocolate-inflected finish. Serve this rich, fruity wine with roast pork tenderloin, pasta Bolognese, lamb chops or steak.

’05 Odfjell “Armador” Chile Cabernet Sauvignon, $7.97
This wine received a 90 point rating by The Wine Advocate, although no tasting note was given. It is another outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon value from this impressive Chilean producer. Bright red and black berries are followed by a touch of roasted red pepper and a hint of fresh jalape–o. The brightness of the nose carries through on the palate, which is smooth and loaded with cassis and blackberry flavors and chalk tones. This wine finishes with vibrant fruit and a touch of pleasingly dusty, ripe tannins. An expressive and distinctive Cabernet buy.

’01 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva, $9.97
2001 is a breakout vintage for the consistently first-rate Marqués de Riscal Reserva. It offers beautifully plush, ripe black fruit flavors, smoky oak and mineral nuances coupled with outstanding balance and finish. It is without a doubt one of the greatest values in the store and a miracle at this price. Drink now or over the next 30 years!

Red Flyer 2003 California Red Table Wine, $ 9, California.
The label depicts a flying saucer zipping through a bleak postmodern landscape, but this award-winning combo of Syrah, Mouvedre, Grenache, Carignan, and “Clone X” contains very pleasant hints of toasty oak.

Firestone Vineyard 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, $10, California.
Aged in stainless steel tanks, this one’s clean, bright and versatile — it would serve well as your house white. It’s 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc, not a blend.

Folie à Deux 2004 Ménage à Trois California Red, $9, California.
Purify your thoughts, people. We’re talking about a blend of three grapes: Cabernet, Zinfandel and Merlot. This mouthful of a wine starts off vibrant and fruity and finishes with a fresh-ground, spicy bite. There’s nothing it can’t stand up to — throw your best summer barbecue at it. It won’t flinch.

14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $10, Washington.
Grown in the wine-making region of Washington state known as Horse Heaven Hills, the name of this super-smooth wine refers to the height of the mustangs that once ran wild there. Its lingering finish is reminiscent of the cherries for which the area is also known.

Alianca Vinho Verde, $7, Portugal.
Perhaps the classic summer white wine, this crisp Portuguese import is the crushed-grape equivalent of linens drying in the sunshine. The term “vinho verde,” or “green wine,” refers not to the color but means the wine is best drunk young.

Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red 2004, $10, Australia.
Don’t be hoodwinked by the screw cap. This smoky, intense wine from Australia’s Padthaway winemaking region received a buzz-worthy rating of 90 out of 100 from The Wine Advocate reviewer Robert Parker. A rich, complex and lingering blend (primarily Cabernet), this is a treat you won’t soon forget.

Hacienda Pinot Noir 2002, $7, California.
This is a nice, light, fruity red for those who prefer less drama per sip than, say, rambunctious Pillar Box fans. On average one of the most inexpensive wines on this list, this Pinot Noir is better suited to a juicy pork tenderloin than a T-bone steak.

Viña Sila Las Brisas 2004, $10, Spain
Got some spicy shrimp cooking up on a skewer? Maybe enjoying a creamy chilled soup made with avocado and cucumber? This fresh, faintly citrusy white from Spain’s Rueda winemaking region will set off these summer dishes perfectly.

Doña Paula Los Cardos Malbec 2004, $9, Argentina.
A robust red with an intriguing chocolate-coffee taste on the finish, this winning selection is made from the increasingly popular Malbec grape. Malbecs, which were grown heavily in France but are now the prize variety of Argentina, tend to make deep, dark violet wines.

Smoking Loon Viognier 2004, $10, California.
This flavorful white from Don Sebastiani & Sons is on the sweet side of Chardonnay, very fruity and full. The winemaker recommends it as an aperitif, a palate cleanser, or a counterbalance to spicy foods like a searing Thai curry.

Photo from Flickr.