$10 and under wines
I'm poor but blessed with a pretty good palate. It just plain hurts to drink bad wine. So I've been scouring old threads and a recent one (red wines $10-$20) for bargain wines. That's where I learned about QPR - quality price ratio. To me, that means a damn fine wine for the price. So, please, share your recent -$10 and under- bottles and where you found them. Red, white, pink, bubbly, and/or fortified.
Living as I do in the Land of Trader Joe's, I tend to get a little smug in these discussions. However, I've recently found another very nice red NOT at TJ's, but at the Tesco Fresh & Easy stores that are opening here in SoCal. It's a store label Spanish red called Saludas - it's in rosé and I think white versions too, of which I can say nothing, but the red is good enough that I'm contemplating making it my basic house wine. Dry, bright, slight smoky tang, kind of like a lesser Beaujolais with a campfire overtone. Nobody would call it great, but for $2.99 a bottle it's pretty damned good.
re: Will Owen
TJ's is a great place to buy groceries, but as far as wine goes, many of their offerings are mediocre to poor. For example -- the Concho y Toro Carmenere is OK, but for $1 less, the Cono Sur bottling is much better. Their generic Barbera is pretty awful -- I've had much better bottles for about the same price. Their Nero d'Avola is OK-ish, but for $1-3 more, very nice bottles can be had elsewhere (Terre di Nero, Don Gia, etc.). I've had fairly poor luck with their Italian offerings, which is unfortunate since that's the kind of wine I like to drink (cheap sturdy red food wines).
It's not that TJ's is *bad*, it's more a matter of there being superior QPR offerings elsewhere, to the point that I hesitate to try any new Italian bottles from TJs (for example). Their French and domestic selections are more reliable (their Vouvray offering was a good deal for $6, and there is usually a decent Muscadet hiding somewhere in any TJ's store). I haven't had good experiences with TJ's house brands, it seems like there is a lot of bottle variation (if I wanted 2 Buck Chuck I would buy that).
Bias having been disclosed, here are some cheap bottles I liked:
Reds: most of my favorite cheap, good reds have been Italian, Spanish, or Chilean. The 'Hecula' Yecla Monastrell ($9) is worth a try if you come across it. Anything made from Nerello Mascalese or Nero D'avola is usually worth a sip, although some of them are not worth much more than that. I have had good luck with bottles from Don Gia ($5), Terre di Nero ($8), and Cosumano ($10?). (More expensive but more reliable is the Sicilian DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria -- a blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato) The basic Cono Sur Carmenere (the $7 bottle) has been reliably kind to my wife and me, a very nice meat-and-potatoes wine. (There's nothing wrong with the Carmenere at TJ's, it's just not as good and it costs a dollar more than that Cono Sur offering, so I never buy it) The Stefano Farina Barbera d'Asti is pretty decent for $9; it seems that good, cheap Barberas are becoming harder to find, which is a drag. My wife and I enjoyed a Pierre Chermette Beaujolais for $9 -- and it didn't taste like candied cherries, either. Not a Beaujolais Villages, not a Moulin-a-Vent, just a regular old Beaujolais that tasted good and came highly recommended despite 4 years in bottle. (Don't knock it until you've tried it -- we've had $60 bottles from generous vendors that couldn't measure up to this humble Gamay!)
Whites: the Burgans Albarino used to be a great $9 bottle, but now it is a great $12 bottle, so I have moved along to Verdejo and blends: the Basa and Con Class bottlings are all right around the $10 mark and all of them have been (in my opinion) marvelously sappy, snappy whites. If you like a good Sauvignon Blanc, you would do well to explore Rueda. There is a good cheap SB at Costco -- St. Clair? St. Clare? -- and it seems like it was about $10 a bottle. Very New Zealand. I liked that too.
Just off the top of my head, the above are bottles that stood out as remarkable values. We probably drink a bottle or two a week with dinner, and I like high-acid wines which aren't overpoweringly fruity. YMMV.
I don't think it's any coincidence that some of my favorite bottles come from the Chronicle Wine Cellar in Pasadena. If you live anywhere nearby, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. ( http://www.cwcellar.com/ )
Pascual Toso Malbec 2006...I think I heard about it here on this board...really great QPR! Found at Total Wine SWFL.
Mark West Pinot Noir ... one of my long time faves and still does not disappoint, $8.99, local independent wine shop.
Another long time fave is Coppola's Rosso 2006, $7.99, grocery store.
And one that I cannot find to save my life is the Borsao Tres Picos...I can find the regular Borsao and the rose but not that one...sorry if these are repeats of what's been said in other threads.