2009 Gabbiano Chianti
I know "nice" and "inexpensive" can be the antipodes of one another, but Tuscan wine producers Castello di Gabbiano have produced an exceptional 2009 Chianti that costs less then ten dollars. It's ideal for drinking while relaxing on the couch and forgetting about the workday. Tuscan wine producers have always had a laid-back attitude toward Chianti, thinking of it as calming, easy-drinking, and non-pretentious -- a "do-nothing" wine, if I may coin a phrase.
Gabbiano's 2009 Chianti is exquisitely balanced, with the soft flavors of plum, coffee, and cedar; supple spice; and a long, smooth finish. Its earthy body makes it easy to pair with pizza, Thai food, or Mexican food. If you're so inclined, you could also bring this Chianti to a party, take it on an around-the-world adventure in a hot-air balloon, or bring it camping with you (which I suppose is mainly an excuse to do nothing outside). Or, if you're like me, take the bottle from the store to your couch, greedy to watch the new episode of Boardwalk Empire -- only to fall asleep halfway through the show. Happily.
2009 Gabbiano Chianti: Right now, the $9.99 bottle is on sale at the Western Addition Lucky's (1750 Fulton) for $7.98; also carried at many other major groceries.