The Spanish have been making vin ordinaire for what seems like forever, but given that Spanish wine has traditionally been overlooked in the U.S., the only cheap Spanish table wine that most of us know is Sangre de Toro.
Which is too bad, since the company behind Protocolo does a more than decent job as well. The red was a little boring — mostly fruit that had been too heavily handled, though not nearly as overdone as some. The Blanco ($7, sample, 12 1/2 percent alcohol, widely available), on the other hand, was a nice little surprise in the midst of holiday wine tasting. It’s made with two Spanish grapes — airén and macabeo, which is also used to make cava. The Blanco had a little lemon fruit, some earthiness and even a bit of minerality, though not as much acid as I expected. This was probably because it was a previous vintage; even so, it held up well.
Chill this and keep a bottle handy for wine with dinner (chicken comes to mind, though takeout that’s not too spicy would work, too). It’s mostly a warm weather wine, but I’m not going to pass up a chance to drink good cheap wine just because it’s cooler in December.