2005 Barrel Reserve Merlot
Trust me on this one: Messina Hof Barrel Reserve Merlot will become your go-to red after just one sip. This medium-bodied blend of Merlot (75%) and Cabernet (25%) is great for sipping or pairing with a full-flavored main dish such as penne with italian sausage or grilled burgers topped with blue cheese.
In addition to its excellent pair-a-bility, I love M.H. Merlot for its subtle complexity. Pass on the bargain kangaroo wine - understated oak and tannins keep this Merlot totally approachable and crowd-friendly, without venturing over into one-note territory. The winery's website ascribes "berry aromas and silky smooth elegance" to it as well, and I must say I completely agree.
Available everywhere from Albertson's to World Market, for right around $12. This is a particular fave of mine, and I can't wait for you to try it!
For more info on this Texas winery, visit http://www.messinahof.com/