Wine 1: 2003 Brancott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This is the first New Zealand wine I've ever had, and it was delicious. Lots of nice crisp flavors, with aromas of fresh cut grass and a hint of lemon and grapefruit on the tongue. If it were summer, I'd serve this in a heartbeat with lime grilled chicken, or perhaps with some lighter Mexican dishes. (Note: This winery is known as "Montana" in its home country, but for obvious reasons is rebranded for sale to the US and Canada.) $11.
Wine 2: 2001 Eschcol Ranch Chardonnay. A standard California chardonnay. Not bad, but not surprising. A great bargain for the price, but when I want a workhorse chard I tend to go for the Hess Select. $8.
Wine 3: 2003 Waterbrook Mélange. Hey, that one looks familiar. $15.
Wine 4: 2002 Carpineto Dogajolo. Gotta love that name. This is a "Super Tuscan", a fun table wine with a lot of personality. It has a very full bodied aroma, but tasts much smoother than you'd expect. I'm always interested in flavorful alternatives to jug chianti, which is often the only exposure that people have had to Italian wines. $10.
Wine 5: 2001 Wolf Blass South Australia Shiraz. Not overly impressed. There's a weird chemical smell (hot plastic or gasoline, something along those lines) that everyone commented on. The taste isn't bad, but for a bargain Aussie shiraz that doesn't smell like you've been torching green plastic Army men with lighter fluid, I prefer Little Penguin or Penfolds. $12.