If you think merlot is a bulk commodity, you've come to the right place to enjoy it for $5, maybe less.
Crane Lake is cheap stuff, with a classy label made by Bronco Wine Co. That's a Franzia Brothers company, folks who know value-priced wine. They make Two Buck Chuck, and Crane Lake is a small step up. No backbone or tannin, but decent body, friendly mouthfeel, and a bowlful of blueberries and blackberries dusted with cinnamon.
Crane Lake makes cabernet, chardonnay and petite sirah as well, all at prices that make a case hard to resist. It's not meant for the cellar but to drink now at a big family dinner.
Availability: $4 to $6, supermarkets and liquor stores.