Very fine or prestigious wines are a quarterly or even yearly indulgence, but one must have a good table wine for dinners that call for wine, an almost daily situation here (Yaegaki
sake sews up the Japanese category). So, I'm on a perpetual search for drinkable (or even more-than-drinkable) wines under $10. I remember how excited we all were when Two-Buck Chuck first appeared at Trader Joe's. It was actually drinkable in that first year, but later quickly turned to plonk. This bumped the safe range for TJ wines to about $4-$6 for a few years, but either my tolerance for mediocre wines deteriorated, or the wines themselves did. I can now find safe harbor, on TJ's shelves and elsewhere, only in the $12+ range. Thus, the search for the elusive Eight Dollar Wonder.
A recent Eight Dollar Wonder materialized, surprisingly, at Bristol Farms -- Castle Rock Cabernet Sauvignon at just under $8. But not just any Castle Rock -- this was a Paso Robles cab, and quite delicious. Unfortunately, after many months, Bristol Farms' supply of the Paso Robles Castle Rock cab has dried up. You can find CR cabs from other regions in almost any store that sells wine, but they are not as good, and no longer a bargain even at $6.
So the search goes on. Whatever wine venue I find myself in, I try 2 or 3 under-$10 wines in (so far vain) hopes of finding another winner.
There's a lot of ungood wine out there. Wish me luck.