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):

Mirassou, 2010 California Merlot, 13.5 percent alcohol, $12. An approachable merlot with aromas and flavors of blackberry, plum, toast and spice. Bright fruit. Good acid. Nice length.

Rodney Strong, 2010 Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5 percent, $28. A cab with ripe tannins and a seamless texture. Notes of red fruit, toast and spice. Lingering finish.

Frank Family Vineyards, 2011 Napa Valley Chardonnay, 14.2 percent, $34.75. A tropical chardonnay with notes of pineapple, apple and a hint of hazelnut. Lively with good acidity. Creamy texture.

Quivira, 2010 Quest, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Zinfandel, 15 percent, $38. A big boy zin with ripe fruit and yet it manages to be balanced. Has depth. Zesty finish.

Renwood, 2010 Timberline, Amador County Zinfandel, 15.5 percent, $40. This brooding zin has concentrated fruit, with a hint of dark chocolate. Firm tannins. Spicy 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

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