1997 Sutter Home Merlot Rose ($6).
Wine snobs might scoff at the very idea of recommending a pink merlot from a mass-market producer, but Sutter Home's new product is a classy wine that delivers excellent value. First of all, it's dry - not at all a carbon copy of Sutter Home's popular white zinfandel. That doesn't mean bone-dry or severe, but it's clearly made to go with food. Its pure cherry-strawberry flavors and crisp acidity should match up well with salmon or ham. Sutter Home has found an excellent way to use California's growing abundance of marginal merlot that would never make a decent (( red wine. Look for many imitators in coming years.