How good can cheap wine be? We put to the test 22 wines recommended by retailers as the best they had for less than $5. They came from all over the world -- California, Washington, France, Spain, Italy, Australia and Argentina.
To avoid being swayed by an impressive appellation or label, we tasted them blind, each in a numbered glass, and revealed their identities only after the last score was given. The tasters -- Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila, columnist David Shaw, Food editor Michalene Busico and staff writer James Ricci -- used a scale of 0 to 5: 0 (dump down drain), 1 (serve to enemies), 2 (sippable), 3 (fine for takeout), 4 (decent house wine) and 5 (serve with pride). The final score for each wine is an average of those given by the four tasters.