Spain's Bodegas Faustino has been making wines from the world-class Rioja region for more than a century and a half. Some are quite gaudy (look for Roman numerals following the Faustino name) and are priced accordingly. A bargain-priced introduction to these robust reds is the 2010 Faustino Rioja, which can be had at local wine savvy markets for about $10.
This wine is dark both in color and in fruit. Black cherry, blackberry and a whiff of black pepper dominate its rich bouquet. On the tongue, blackberry melds beautifully with dark chocolate cherry and a black pepper edge. It is well structured throughout with nice tannins, which are especially prominent on a long finish lush with dark fruits.
This a terrific red meat wine. Pair it with anything from a mushroom cheeseburger to a pampered dry-aged ribeye steak. It also would go well with a bowl of Texas red chili (no beans!) or tapas featuring salty jamon iberico.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.