One of the questions that I am often asked by lovers of grilled meats and steaks is what are the best wines to pair with their favorite cuts. In the US, frequently the automatic inclination is a fine Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a grand cru French Bordeaux, neither of which is a bad option. However, a wine sleuth that wishes to pair wine with his or her favorite steak at a good steakhouse but is tired of paying exorbitant markups might consider less pricey but quality options. Last night, I ventured off the obvious path and paired a terrific Spanish Rioja with a world-class aged bone-in filet and was blown away. That particular wine was the Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2008. What is even better news is that this balanced, nuanced Spaniard retails for $16, meaning that even in a typical restaurant with a 200-250% markup from retail, the Montecillo Rioja Reserva will not cause your Amex to spontaneously combust at the cashier! As discussed in an earlier Chapter (Chapter 5), the Rioja Reserva designation by law requires a minimum of 1 year aging in oak casks and a total of 3 years of aging. Accordingly, you will always get a wine properly aged by the vintner with the Rioja Reserva designation. The Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2008 has a flavor profile of dark cherries and raspberries on the nose with touches of vanilla, earth and leather mid-palate, followed by a lingering, satisfying finish that will easily stand up to a seared filet. Low in alcohol at 13.5% compared to most domestic Cab Savs, the Rioja has fine tannins that are silky and elegant. No less an expert than Robert Parker of Wine Advocate awarded an impressive 91 rating to the Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2008. Whether you enjoy this Rioja at home or with your favorite steak dining out, this Spaniard is well worth a try!