Sometimes it's fun to drink outside the box. Take, for instance, a merlot from the Ardeche in France. It is oh-so-tasty, with lots of color, depth, silky black fruit, wood, herb, a dollop of tannin and a most charming personality. This is decidedly not common. We hardly ever see French country wine up here. The Ardeche river flows into the Rhone from the western side. The most common grape varieties are grenache and syrah, so having a merlot from the area adds a dash of curiosity. Enjoy with lightly grilled meats or tomato sauces. Costs about $14.
-- Mike McVittie reviews wines available in Anchorage