There is an urban legend in wine-tasting and wine appreciation that ‘you get what you pay for’. In other words, if you want a good wine, you must be willing to pay a higher price. This is simply not true, unilaterally at least. Obviously some lower priced wines lack the bouquet and depth of a Clois du Bois. But it is very easy to purchase a respectable wine for a very reasonable price. Here’s how.

Let’s look at a wine that is fast becoming America’s favorite: Shiraz, or Syrah as it has been called in times past. Perhaps the epiphany of Shiraz is due to good years for the grape. Or it may be that wine connoisseurs are developing a taste for heavier-bodied wines. In the days when dinner in wealthy homes consisted of five to seven courses, each with its accompanying wine, diners needed wines that paired well with each course. Can you imagine the indigestion from consuming five to seven different wines, on top of soup, fish, fowl, joint followed by rich dessert liqueurs and heavy Stilton cheese?

For wine connoisseurs want to enjoy a good vintage without paying top dollar, there are several really nice reasonably priced wines at your local grocery store. These red wines are rich and dark with a heavy body that clings to the glass.

Oak Leaf from Ripon, California is quite good and retails for $2.97 a bottle at Walmart stores. They don’t carry a Shiraz, but their Merlot is similar in taste.

Crane Lake: a modest-priced 3 bottles for $10 might cause the less discerning to shy away, under the mistaken assumption that Crane Lake couldn’t be good wine with such a low price. Such shallow thinking will mean that the wine-lover misses a very respectable wine. I’ve not tried the other varieties, but Crane Lake Shiraz is very tasty. This is one of the smokiest of Shiraz that I have ever consumed. I happen to like my Shiraz very oakey and this wine was a nice treat.

Gato Negro: $4 to $6 a bottle has a Merlot and a Cabernet Merlot variety that have a nice bouquet and rich, rewarding taste.

Redwood Creek is slightly higher in price but absolutely worth it. A rich dark red that rivals Woodbridge and Robert Mondavi.

Bon Appetit and may you enjoy your wine in bliss!