This a darn good bottle of California red for $6. It would be good at its full national suggested retail price of $9, too, but at the price we found it for at a local big-box store, the 2010 Hacienda Merlot "Claire de Lune" is a genuine bargain.
The winemaker suggests pairing this easy drinking wine with duck in orange sauce or grilled quail, both of which sound right, but at this price why not break it out to wash down weeknight classic cheddar cheeseburgers or mac and cheese?
This wine starts off with a yummy nose of blackberries and cinnamon and opens on the tongue in a melange of blackberry, blueberry and pie spice with a bit of pumpkin bread at the back for good measure. Its medium-long finish is dominated by dark berries and warm spices.
If this sounds like a recipe for the viniferous version of comfort food, that's because it is. And for just that very good reason it will be welcome at our table any night of the week.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.