The grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend or visa versa.
The word: We here in the Pacific Northwest are truly blessed because all of our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes make wonderfully fruity, delicious and smooth wines even when the wineries make a less-expensive blend to move out the door.
While favorite vineyards and hand-crafted reserves make for some glorious Cabs and Merlot, many times the "lesser" blends - some of them nonvintage - are not to be overlooked.
It's certainly on the radar of ol' Bargain Bob, who can shop around and find plenty of these blends for less than $10 - most under $8.
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The match: Pizza, pasta, any kind of red meat, especially hamburger, roast chicken and assorted cheeses.
Here are some of the bargains (prices are what I've found them for, which are below retail):
Snoqualmie 2007 Whistle Stop Red Cab-Merlot, Columbia Valley, $7: Vibrant black cherry and currant aromas combine to offer the same sweet fruit flavors. The structure features soft and supple tannins.
Hogue Cellars 2007 Cab-Merlot, Columbia Valley, $6: This screwcapped bottle makes it easy to get at the well-structured drink, which strikes a balance of oak with fruit. The accents are reminiscent of fresh cherries and strawberries.
Barnard Griffin NV Cabernet-Merlot, Columbia Valley, $8: Its beguiling nose of vanilla and baking spice yields a palate of plum, cherry and chocolate flavors.
Columbia Crest 2006 Two Vines Merlot-Cab, Columbia Valley $7: The aromas of raspberry, black cherry and blackberry carry on through to the palate with a sublime mouthfeel.
Bridgeview 2005 Blue Moon Cab-Merlot, Oregon, $10: One of Oregon's largest wineries is on the road to the Oregon Caves in the scenic Illinois Valley. This vintage features aromas of cherries and cloves with ripe plum flavors.
Ste. Chapelle NV Soft Red, Idaho, $6: Here's a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah that's for those who like less alcohol (10.5%). It's also slightly off-dry, but good acidity balances the sweet cherry flavor and hint of citrus.
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate NV Cab-Merlot, British Columbia, $16 CDN: Intense black currant and spicy pepper aromas marry with the lively plum and blackberry notes. This release is available in a 1.5-liter bottle at provincial liquor stores.