January and February are good months for searching the grocery store shelves, local merchants, online direct-to-consumer purveyors, and big box stores for value wines. Newer wines will soon enter the distribution channels. Retailers and flash sale warehouses need space. With some sleuthing, you can find many selections for daily pleasures, casual dining, and stocking up for group events where consumption may reach record proportions.

The wines are listed here in order of price and were tasted in the past 60 days. We’re pleased to share these ideas from six countries in decent distribution. Cheers!


  • Precision Wines, Circumference, Dry Creek Valley, California, $13, down from $23 (Costco). Mid-dark garnet, viscous (14.5 alc.); berry, herbaceous, ripe grape, red fruit nose; mid acids; mid tannins; good fruit for the money; long hot cherry finish. 16/90.
  • $15 marked down from $25 (Costco) 2018 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Hands of Time. Light-mid-ruby, viscous (14.5 alc.); red fruit, cherries, ripe grape nose; mid acids; softening tannins; good fruit; semi-long red fruit finish. 16/90.

    Penfolds Shiraz

  • Value $17 (grocery store) Sonoma field blend 2020 Alexander Valley Vineyards Homestead Wetzel Family Estate (42% Merlot, 40 Zin, plus four other reds); mid garnet, viscous (14.0 alc.); red fruit, berry, brambles, wood nose; mid acids; mid+tannins; semi-long, tart, red fruit and wood finish. Easy sipping with anything. 16/90.
  • $17 from $22 (Costco) Calif. Pinot Noir 2021 Boen Wines Santa Barbara, Monterey, Sonoma Blend. Dark garnet, viscous (14.0 alc.); red and black fruit, ripe grape, blackberry jam nose; mid acids; mid-full tannins; bigger style; more Syrah-like than Pinot; long hot finish. w/burgers. 15.5/89.
  • $18 Italian value 2020 Argiano Non Confunditur Toscana IGT (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese). Mid-dark garnet, viscous (14.5 alc.); sweet red fruit nose, jam, plum, raspberry; low-mid acids; low-mid tannins; balanced; good depth of fruit; semi-long red fruit finish. 16/90.
  • San Luis Obispo, Calif., red wine blend (6 varietals) 2020 Booker Vineyard My Favorite Neighbor Harvey and Harriet ($20 Costco). Mid garnet, viscous (14.1 alc.); berries, herbaceous, ripe grape, cassis nose; low-mid acids; mid tannins; some style; semi-long berry, red fruit finish. 16/90.
  • Fine $22 (Vivino) Italian 2019 Terrecarsiche 1939 Primitivo Gioia del Colle Fanova. Mid-dark garnet, viscous (14.5 alc.); red fruit, brambles (Zinfandel), berries, wood nose; mid acids, mid+ tannins; good depth of fruit; long berry and wood finish. w/lasagna. 16.5/91.
  • $22 Mendoza 2019 Bodega Catena Zapata Cabernet Sauvignon Catena High Mountain Vines. Similar to notes from April 2023. Mid-dark garnet, viscous (13.5 alc.); berries, herbaceous, ripe grape, wood nose; mid acids; mid+ tannins; mid-full depth; semi-long berry finish. w/flank steak. 16/90.
  • $23 Napa 2019 Markham Merlot. Mid garnet, viscous (14.8 alc.); red fruit, herbaceous strawberry jam nose; mid acids; softening tannins; round red fruit finish, easy-drinking red. 16/90.
  • $23 Portuguese find 2021 Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo Douro Reserva. Dark purple, viscous (14.0 alc.); red fruit, pomegranate, pepper, wood nose; mid acids/tannins; balanced; good fruit; semi-long red fruit finish. 16/90.
  • $23 Napa 2021 Rutherford Hill Merlot. Mid-garnet, viscous (14.3 alc.); red fruit, herbaceous, cocoa, smokey nose; low-mid acids; low-mid tannins; semi-long, balanced, red fruit finish. Easy-sipping with almost anything. 16/90.
  • $24 Sonoma Merlot, 2021 Decoy Limited Alexander Valley. Mid-ruby, viscous (13.9 alc.); herbaceous, red fruit, cherry nose; mid acids; mid+ tannins; tight; semi-long, tart, slightly hot black fruit finish. BBQ and burger wine. 15.5/89.
  • $25 Sonoma 2021 Amici Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Olema. Dark garnet, viscous (14.5 alc.); ripe grape, herbaceous, red fruit nose; mid acids; mid+ tannins; deep fruit; semi-long, chewy, red fruit finish. w/grilled burgers. 16/90.
  • $28 S. Australia BBQ, rib, grill wine 2021 Penfolds Shiraz Bin 28. Darkest purple, viscous (14.5 alc.); ripe grape, prune, pepper, tar nose; mid acids; mid+ tannins; grapey, thick, chewy; semi-long black fruit and jam finish. 16-16.5/90-91.


We mostly drink red wines during the winter, but here are three quaffable whites.

  • $13 (Costco) Marlborough, NZ, 2022 Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc. Sharp mid-green gold; citrus, grapefruit, herbaceous, classic Marlborough nose; mid+ acids; mid-body; semi-long, crisp, citrus finish. w/cheeses, appetizers. 15.5/89.
  • $18 (grocery store) Sonoma 2021 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay. Sharp mid-gold, viscous (14.5 alc.); toasty, tropical, stone fruit, vanilla nose; mid acids; good depth; rounder style; long semi-crisp finish. w/grilled chicken. 16/90.
  • $20 easy sipping party and picnic wine 2022 Terlato Friuli Colli Orientali Pinot Grigio. Light-mid gold; green fruit, clove, floral nose; low-mid acids; some depth; semi-ling fruity finish. 15/88.