I sometimes hesitate to make wine recommendations since individual tastes and bank accounts vary so dramatically. But, here's one I think we can all agree on: Sherman & Hooker's Shebang red wine blend is one of the great steals so far in this millennium.
Packaged in a whiskey-style 1 liter bottle with a screw top, you might be tempted to compare this "jug" wine with Gallo Burgundy or Carlo Rossi. Don't. This is a serious wine made by a serious winemaker: Morgan Peterson, who is the son of Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson. His Bedrock Wine Company produces wines mostly way out of my price range, except for Shebang!, which sells here for a paltry $13.99.
It's named for the founders of the Bedrock vineyard in Sonoma -- General William "Tecumsah" Sherman and "Fightin' Joe" Hooker, who planted grapes there in 1854.
Shebang! (the 3rd cuvee) is a blend of declassified North Coast fruit: old vine Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, aged in new French oak. There is pepper and blueberry on the nose from the Syrah and very deep flavors, although this is an easy-drinking wine.
Pour Shebang! into Riedel stemware, hide the bottle, and let your guests think they're sipping something ridiculously expensive!