The only thing I miss about corks are the ones that came with Reds before the wine switched to screwcaps. They had pictures of famous Reds — Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin — and its slogan was "Wine for the people."
Fortunately, the wine under screwcap is as dependable as ever and the slogan is still applicable. The current vintage (about $10, purchased, available at Central Market) is a blend of zinfandel, carignane and petite syrah. It’s more Italian in style than I remember, but there is enough fruit (dark berries) and spice to make Americans happy. Plus, it doesn’t have any of the unpleasant tannins and acid that often come with this style of wine. Its producer, Laurel Glen, is another example of how to to use Lodi fruit to make great, cheap wine.
This is a big wine, with 14.5 percent alcohol. It’s balanced, so the alcohol isn’t a problem, but it’s probably better with food than on its own. That means red sauces and sausages, as well as other winter fare. I drank it with my pal Jim Serroka’s epic borscht, loaded with cabbage, potatoes, beef and pork, and it worked quite nicely.
Speaking of great cheap wine, the annual $10 Wine Hall of Fame is in the January magazine. This is the eighth year I’ve done it, and there were some big changes. Osborne’s Solaz, one of my all-time favorites, dropped out. Its producer is phasing out the product.