When it comes to wine, "the less spent, the better"—in both rich and lean times, writes Eric Asimov in the New York Times. Figuring the government "has bigger things to bail out than our wine bills," Asimov set out to find the French values in the "promised land": the $10-$20 range. Bordeaux's wines may be cheap, but "the real treasures lie in areas thought to be of lesser status."
The Loire Valley offers $16 Beaujolais fit for Asimov's Thanksgiving table and smoky cabernet francs free from the ubiquitous residual sugars of other "fatiguing" reds. The Loire also is a source for whites, featuring commendable Vouvrays and Muscadets. The Rhone may be getting expensive, but a red like the 2005 Costieres de Nimes Perrieres ($16) from Marc Kreydenweiss is a "fruity, funky, earthy delight."