Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck: Rene Barbier NV Mediterranean Red

"OK, Mister Tight-With-a-Buck," I hear you ask. "What's the cheapest wine you know of that doesn't suck?" 

So maybe you didn't really ask. But I'll tell you anyway. 

It's the nonvintage Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red and White. I've already touted Barbier's white wine -- a blend of Xarello, Macabeo, and Parellada -- in this space before. But I can just as enthusiastically recommend the bright, tangy, surprisingly nuanced Med Red, which, like the white, can be found for as little as $4 a bottle going all the way up to the princely sum of  $6. 

It tastes like its blend of Merlot (55 percent) and Tempranillo (45 percent), with the former's ripe, accessible plum-berry fruit and the latter's tannic backbone and hints of olives, anise, and earth. And with its medium to light body and modest (nowadays, anyway) 13.5 percent alcohol, it's as pleasant a wine for sipping as it is a willing partner to foods from burgers to roasted chicken. 

It's a wine even Mister Tight-With-a-Buck would buy by the case.

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Bill Citara