Those of us who are Big Red fans are always on the lookout for a great Value Wine to enjoy and serve to our own wine buddies. As most of you have heard, the classic Bordeaux varietal Merlot fell out of favor for several years, coinciding in part with the 2004 dark comedy “Sideways” (and Miles’ classic utterance that he wasn’t “drinking any *&^%ing Merlot” to his twisted buddy Jack), but probably more attributable to the fact that the US wine market got flooded with some overly ripened, terrible Merlots. Well, fellow sleuths, Merlot is back in a big way (not that it ever left the Right Bank of Bordeaux, where Merlot-based classic wines are typical), and we all benefit from the presence of great Value Wines such as the Pedroncelli Merlot Dry Creek Valley Bench Vineyards 2017. Unlike the flabby Merlots of 15 years ago, this Big Red has ample structure and acidity to pair extremely well with a grilled beef filet, an idea which sounds delicious for tonight’s dinner. The Pedroncelli 2017 Merlot has the flavor profile of dried dark berries and currants, with a hint of cedar and dark cherry on the long, satisfying finish. It is remarkable that this kind of quality is produced year in and year out by the Pedroncelli winery, but we are all the beneficiaries! Wine Spectator featured this great Value Wine in its April 30 issue in the “Sweet Spot” article about great bang-for-the-buck wines, and it awarded this wine a solid 90 rating. This, folks, is a perfect wine for everyday enjoyment, plus it is structured and nuanced sufficiently to pour on Saturday night to your pickiest wine friends. The Pedroncelli 2017 Merlot is widely available for a very reasonable retail of $18!