Barefoot Sweet Red, California, $6
If you want a red wine that can stand a slight chill and also are looking for a little sweetness, then this is a real winner for $6. This wine starts with a nose full of bright, red fruit and sweet juiciness. Layers of raspberries and strawberries start the tasting experience, joined by layers of ripe plums, juicy, jammy notes and a hint of grape. This is a great wine for spicy foods and barbecue dishes because sweetness tames the spice. I also recommend this wine if you are looking for an alternative to dry wines or something for friends who are new to wine-drinking and like sweet flavors.
Ciroc Vodka, France, $31 750 ml
This is a unique vodka produced from grapes grown in the Gaillac region of France. It is distilled five times to provide exceptionally clean and smooth flavors in every sip. You can smell the grapes as soon as you pour out that first sip. The aroma lets you know this will be a different drinking experience. The heat in the vodka is tempered by the smoothness. The grape flavor is like a whisper and not at all overpowering. Overall, this is a smooth sipping cocktail or martini mixer, and would even be excellent in a cosmopolitan. Recently, P. Diddy made this vodka his drink of choice.
Columnist 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 at www.twitter.com/winereview.