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Wine of the Week - Budget-Friendly Wines

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Last December, Eating Our Words looked at two inexpensive but tasty wines. We decided it was time for a closer and more in-depth look at budget-friendly options. Just because we are still paying off credit card bills from the holidays doesn't mean we want to give up all our fun. Here are some of our less expensive favorites for a special dinner at home or a take-out weeknight on the couch.

1. Excelsior Shiraz 2007 - Don't get turned off by the screw cap. Screw caps are no longer a sign of inferior wine. This $7.62 South African Shiraz is a nice, jammy everyday wine. It's juicy and full of dark fruit flavors with a standard peppery finish. This medium-bodied wine is an easy way to explore South African wines.

2. Valle Perdido Malbec 2006 - We usually have Argentinian Malbecs from Mendoza, but this drinkable Malbec, about $12, is from Patagonia. It's pleasantly smooth and full-bodied, with red fruit flavors. Drink it alone or with a nice steak. You'll wish you had more than one bottle.

3. Chateau de la Ragotiere Muscadet Sevre Et Maine 2007 - We stumbled upon this dry Muscat from the Loire Valley when we were looking for a new alternative to our standard Sauvignon Blanc. The light white has good acidity and minerality, with strong flavors of green apple and citrus. The Loire Valley is known for its white wines, and this $11.47 wine does not disappoint.

4. Palacio de Bornos Verdejo 2008 - We first tried this Spanish White wine when we paired it with tater tots, and it immediately became one of our favorites. The grapefruit and citrus flavors make for a crisp, full-bodied wine, about $12 a bottle. We keep a couple of bottles in our refrigerator for a weeknight indulgence.

5. A-TO-Z Pinot Gris 2008 - We were pleasantly surprised by this Oregon Pinot Gris. The flavor is mostly pear and lime, with a slight mineral finish. Many people like the popular, oak-aged Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, but we prefer this crisp and refreshing un-oaked wine. Plus, at about $11, it's less expensive than the Santa Margherita and goes perfectly with seafood.

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