Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck
On the other hand, you can't argue with what's in the glass, and though Beringer Vineyards is about as megagiant as you can get (one of more than 60 wineries owned by Australia's Foster's Group), the 2007 Beringer California Cabernet Sauvignon delivers a respectable taste of California Cab for around $11.
Now, we're not talking Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estate or even Beringer's own Private Reserve or Knight's Valley wines. But, to my palate at least, where most cheap California Cabs taste like somebody mixed a jar of Welch's with grain alcohol and seasoned it with oak shavings, the low-rent Beringer actually shows a little restraint. It starts off with a bit of an earthy nose, with some cherry fruit and hints of coffee, then in the mouth it's a nice balance of ripe fruit, toasty oak, and sweet spice, with maybe a touch of vanilla thrown in.
Think of it as the vinous equivalent of a burger or spaghetti 'n' meatballs (which it would pair well with, thank you very much) -- a simple but pleasing wine that gets the job done for a reasonable amount of coin. It's available just about everywhere too; you could practically trip over it at your local supermarket. And with the money you save, in another 15 or 20 years, you might actually be able to afford a bottle of Harlan Estate.