A roundup of cheap wine news, in honor of the 2010 $10 Hall of Fame:
• Bubbly prices lose fizz: If you're in France, that is. Champagne prices were discounted dramatically for the New Year's holiday by producers desperate to move product. Grocery store chains like Carrefour and Auchan were selling real Champagne -- the stuff made in the Champagne region, and not elsewhere in France -- for less than euro10 (US$14) a bottle. That's almost unheard of, but the Champagne business is in serious trouble. Exports in the first half of the year plunged 45 percent. (And I'm sorry about the bold-faced lead-in for this item -- I couldn't help myself.)
• Value wines from Tastings.com: The Web site run by the Beverage Testing Institute released its 2009 best buys, and the results were encouraging for those of us who like cheap wine. "Fortunately for those on a budget, the under $20 categories are ripe with good tasting wines. And for the first time since we started this competition earlier this decade, some of the highest scoring wines were not just under $20 and $15, but under $10." The site rated wines in 16 categories, including top 10 red and white wines for $8 and less.
• Kevin Zraly on cheap wine: The author of the Windows on the World wine book, which is probably the best introductory book on wine, offers his take on the best wines in the world for $15 or less.