21 Reds Under $21
Domaine Grand Nicolet is mostly grenache, which isn't usually a star turn grape, but this Rhône, all velvet and blackberries, drinks like a wine twice its price. $17.99 at Acker Merrall, a new supply due in at the end of the month.
The Hedonist 2009, an Aussie Shiraz, does the country proud with this aptly named winter warmer. $20 at Beacon Wines
Don't let its wide availability deter you: just about everything Antinori does is worthwhile and that includes this gently-priced, pasta-primed, Sangiovese-based Santa Cristina from Tuscany. $8.99 at 67 Wines
The Brooklyn/New Zealand story gives Otto's Constant Dream Syrah 2008 an extra kick, though it speaks and drinks beautifully for itself. Pour, $20
A lot of wine for $8.99, Chile's Montgras Carmenere Reserva is ready for its closeup: concentrated fruit, good structure, and works well with winter (hearty) foods. At Gotham Wines
Bargain Pinot Noirs usually spell trouble but Michel Gassier Les Piliers Pinot Noir, from vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon, makes the case. $9.99 at Garnet
Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage 2010 from South Africa is lively and pleasant—not meant as faint praise, either. $10.99 at K & D Wines
A Robert Parker favorite, the Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red 2008 blends Shiraz, Cabernet, and Merlot, and drinks jammy. $13.99 at Vintage Grape
Dolcetto, in spite of its name, evokes leather and tobacco along with its fruit, and the Giorgio Pelissero Dolcetto d'Alba Munfrina 2010 is a gorgeous version. Everything with the Pelissero name on it is worth seeking out. $20 at Park Avenue Liquor Shop
From Spain's Asturias region, 2010 Monasterio de Corias Joven, a food-friendly wine with grapes that we couldn't identify if our life depended on it: Mencia, Carrasquin, Verdejo Negro. But that's one of the pleasures of wine-drinking: always more to learn and more to taste. $15.99 at Crush
Chapoutier on the label is virtually a guarantee that you've got an excellent Rhône before you. Also, judging by this wine, Rousillon. Chapoutier Bila-Haut 2009 Cotes du Roussillon $14.95, on sale now for $12.95 at Morrell.
Frascole 2009 Chianti Bitornino is a straw-bottle-style Chianti (minus the straw), crying out for antipasti and pasta. $11.99 at Chambers Wines
Hard to beat for the price point, the Avalon California Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 offers reliably good Cab Savs for every-day drinking and we find that the reasonable (under 14%) alcohol level allows the grape's character a fighting chance. $11.99 at California Wine Merchants
Tempranillo, the blue-blooded, ruby-wine-producing Spanish grape used in Rioja, has made its way to the far corners of the earth. The Santa Julia Organica Tempranillo 2010 from Mendoza in Argentina, proves what a good traveler it is. The cherry notes recall a Pinot Noir, though a Pinot with an unexpected five o'clock shadow. $9.99 at Appellation
Cotes de Castillon is a place to look for Bordeaux at non-stratospheric prices. Case in point, the Bordeaux blend (here, Merlot and Cabernet Franc) Chateau Manoir du Gravoux, Roc du Manoir 2008. The winery, which has been in new hands since 1997, has developed a well-deserved reputation for delivering wines that exceed expectations. $17.99 at Le Dû
One for the home team: Long Island's Duck Walk Vineyards Meritage 2003, which you can find for $29.99, is $9.99 at Warehouse Wines.
A California Pinot Noir that scratches the itch, and then some, for a Pinot without poverty—a toast to, and with, the Ramsay 2009. $18 at Bottlerocket
If South Africa isn't on your wine radar, see if the Oracle Pinotage 2011 does the trick, irresistible at $6.96, Astor Wines.
Carmenere, the 'lost grape of Bordeaux,' has been found in places as far-flung as Chile. Terra Andina Reserva Carmenere 2008 does a bang-up job for $14 at The Greene Grape.
Argentina's best-known female winemaker, Susana Balbo, shows her chops with Crios di Susana Balbo, an all-Cabernet Sauvignon pleasure for $16 at Smith and Vine.
California's Cline Zinfandel 2009 is aces on the Zin front, holding the alcohol at 14%, but delivering all the jammy goodness. The winemakers suggest drinking with chili con carne, which we have actually done, with great pleasure. $14 at DOC Wine Shop
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skint - adj. british slang (1930-35)
lacking funds, broke, bust, stone-broke, impecunious
Around town this weekend, courtesy of the skint: a daily listing of free and cheap things to buy, see, do and eat in New York.
fri 7pm (+ 1/27): a former grocery store condiment demonstrator tells all at confessions of a condiment hustler. magnet theater, $7.
fri 8pm (+ 1/21, 26-28): airborne mutant serpents attack earth in everywhere theatre group's flying snakes in 3d. what did you think it was about? the brick, $18.
sat 1pm: portlandia's fred armisen and carrie brownstein discuss their work on the show at the paley center, $15
sun 6pm: taste chili from 10 contestants and enter raffles at the habitat's (greenpoint ) fourth chili cook-off, $10
sat-sun: 200 dealers convene for the americana + antiques show at pier 92 (12th ave @ 55th st.). $15, $20 combo ticket includes the antiques at the armory show at the 69th regiment armory and free shuttle bus.