Press Democrat wine writer Peg Melnik scopes out restaurant wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good value and the occasional splurge. This week's picks (prices are retail; restaurant markup varies):

Gloria Ferrer, 2007 Carneros Merlot, 13.5 percent alcohol, $19. A steal for the price. This merlot has layered flavors of black cherry, blueberry, cedar and leather. It has firm tannins. Lingering finish.

Decoy, 2010 Sonoma County Zinfandel, 14.5percent, $22. A briary zin that has some muscle. Notes of blackberry, black cherry, anise and cracked black pepper. Balanced. Nice length.

Lang & Reed, 2010 North Coast Cabernet Franc, $24. This is a tasty cab franc with notes of red fruit, herbs and licorice. Nice structure. Balanced. Ripe tannins.

Duckhorn Vineyards, 2011 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5 percent, $29. This tasty California-style is sauvignon blanc is elegant, with tropical aromas and flavors. Notes of citrus, toast and spice. Lovely.

Dashe, 2009 Louvau Vineyard Old Vines, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, 14.8 percent, $32. Old-vine zin at its best. Great bones. Deep flavors. A seamless texture. Tasty.

Grgich Hills Estate, 2009 Napa Valley Zinfandel, 15.3 percent, $35. This is a zin with intensity and bright fruit flavors. Notes of raspberries, strawberries, herbs and spice. Great concentration of fruit. Zesty.

Bella, Big River Ranch, 2009 Alexander Valley Zinfandel, 14.7 percent, $38. This is a snappy zin that also manages to be lush. Striking black cherry, cedar and spice. A knockout.

Rodney Strong's Symmetry, 2009 Alexander Valley Meritage Red Wine, 15 percent, $55. This Bordeaux red blend is impressive because it's so complex. Aromas and flavors of plum, blackberry and spice. Firm tannins. Supple. Lingering finish.

Want to share a current wine on your favorite restaurant's list? E-mail peg.melnik@ or check out her Tasting Room blog at