COUSINO-MACULANTIGUASRESERVAS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007. Respectable Chilean cab serves up serious grapes grown for maximum sun exposure. A genuine red that shows no evidence of cheating by addition of sugar – vintners, you know who you are, and I might have to sic Cheer Bear on you. RECOMMEND.
VALLE LAS ACEQUIASMENDOZAMALBEC OAK (ARGENTINA 2005). Well behaved for a malbec — perhaps almost too much so for a bear whose terror of the washing machine cannot prevent him from soaking his paws in this luscious wine so he can enjoy it after certain humans have selfishly downed the bottle. RECOMMEND.
CLINE ANCIENT VINES ZINFANDEL, 2008. Jammy and exuberant up front, this zin settles down nicely as you drink, developing into a smooth, drinkable, balanced wine. I wish we had some left over for breakfast. RECOMMEND.
2006 WIRRA WIRRA CHURCH BLOCK CABERNET-MERLOT-SHIRAZ. Big and obvious — not disappointing at all for a little bear. The kind of wine you can drink all at once without feeling you should save it. RECOMMEND.
INNOCENT BYSTANDER 2008 PINOT NOIR. Simple, fruity, medium-bodied wine — so uncomplicated that it’s easy to forget you’re drinking it and lose track of how much you’ve had. Next thing you know you’re opening another. RECOMMEND.
VERAMONTE 2006 CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA. Decent, full-bodied wine. Some would say it needs to sit for another year, but who in their right mind would let a good bottle languish when the opportunity exists to get swacked? RECOMMEND.
CALONA VINEYARDS ROYAL RED. Comes in a big-ass bottle for cheap. Need I say more? Skip the nuance tonight. RECOMMEND.
WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON. Warm, full-bodied, reliable red at a good price. Needs to open up, so decant it and devote 45 minutes or so to drinking a cheap white while you wait. RECOMMEND.
ROLF BINDER HALES 2007 BAROSSA VALLEYSHIRAZ. Ahhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhh. Massive fruit, lovely complexity, no need to decant. RECOMMEND buying up cases and sending them to Liquorstore Bear. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
CLANCY’S RED. I can’t remember all the different grapes in this one, but it’s another reliable, lovely under-$20 red wine that proves getting sloshed is not just an end unto itself. RECOMMEND.
LITTLE RED DRESS. The sort of red wine people buy for the label. Almost a cooking wine, but for bears like myself who eschew solids, RECOMMEND just drinking it quickly.
GIACONDI. Use the red to reset yourself when your tastes are getting too rarefied – a glass of this should make any subsequent tastings shine by comparison. Use the white, with its off-putting, vague petroleum aftertaste, for truth-or-dare exploits. RECOMMEND both as per these guidelines.
HOGUE GENESIS MERLOT. I debated keeping this silky, delectableWashingtonmerlot a secret, but I have memory dropouts so I might as well give it away. This is one of the best reds you can get away with for under $20. RECOMMEND.
J. LOHR CABERNET SAUVIGNON. Sophisticated, well-balanced wine. RECOMMEND anyway.
MARCUS JAMES MALBEC. An olfactory blast of gouda mixed with feet informs you before the first sip that this is a special wine. May trigger sentiment about first cheap wine-buying forays. RECOMMEND.
YELLOWTAIL SHIRAZ-CABERNET, 2005. Serve this overly simple, sweet wine at end-of-night when you want your guests to get the hell out so you can curl up under the toilet. RECOMMEND.
TINHORN CREEK MERLOT. Dreadful barnyardy plonk. Good for when you want your drinking companions to ease up on their drinking and leave you most of the bottle. RECOMMEND.
FINCA LOS PRIMOS. A ten-dollar wine that you can get ripped on without tasting cheese or manure in the background. RECOMMEND.
RAVENS WOODLODI. Delicious zinfandel bursting with fruit – RECOMMEND as long as you have plenty of Advil for the next-day headache.
MONTGRAS QUATRO (Chile). Lovely dry cab/malbec/syrah blend that’s drinkable right away and good to the last drop – RECOMMEND.