2008 Glen Ellen Merlot, California; $6
If you're looking for an easy-drinking, fruit-forward merlot that won't break the bank, then this is your choice.
It starts with a touch of jam fruit and oak notes on the nose that seamlessly carry into the mouth. Notes of plums, raspberries and vanilla are complemented with just the right amount of oak in each sip.
This is a terrific wine for under $10. It will work with almost any menu that calls for red wine.
Remy Martin 1738 Cognac, France; $49
In Remy Martin 1738, the number refers to the year King Louis XV issued a royal decree that granted Remy Martin additional vineyard space to expand its operations. This cognac is exceptionally soft. It's a house-blend style with cognac aged 20 years or older mixed in each year. This blend ensures consistency year after year. Aromas of dried orange zest and oak fill the glass and flow into the flavors of creamy orange blossoms, spice and slight nuttiness.
On the finish, subtle hints of cinnamon and oak resurface with the fruit notes balancing them perfectly.
This cognac has class and style in addition to being full-bodied with loads of flavor.
Lain Bradford is a wine writer and reviewer who has achieved his first level master sommelier certificate and is working toward his Certified Wine Educator degree. He only writes about beverages that are available in South Carolina and Georgia. Follow him on Twitter under the name "winereview."