In Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Chef, (great book btw – awesome, bite-sized recipes and techniques that make cooking extremely easy to learn), he has a section where he suggests versatile, yet cheap wines. Here are some copy/pasted from the book:
“SCHLOSS GOBELSBURG GRÜNER VELTLINER
2011, Austria ($15)
Terrific savory wine, with a flavor combination between pinot grigio, dry Riesling, and a dash of sauvignon blanc. Hints of celery root, green apple, lemon peel, and white pepper. Great as an aperitif or with food.”
“SCARPETTA PINOT GRIGIO
2010, Italy ($20)
Made in Italy by a sommelier and a chef from Colorado who really know what they’re doing. As a general rule, just about any Italian white is safe—most are low-to-average in alcohol and very few (other than mass-market pinot grigio) carry any RS at all.”
“Eradus Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, New Zealand (<$22)"
“DOMAINE DE LA CHAPELLE DES BOIS BEAUJOLAIS
2010, France ($16)
It’s almost impossible to beat the French for cheap, dry, inexpensive, flavorful reds. Beaujolais often gets a bad rap from the large-scale production wines that flood the market, but the smaller producers make incredible wines on the cheap. Ask your wine guy for a “Cru Beaujolais,” the highest ranking. For an extra $5 or so, it’s a huge step up in quality.”
“MELVILLE “ESTATE” PINOT NOIR
2009, California ($34)
One of the best values in pinot noir on the planet. Made in Santa Rita Hills, this wine so overdelivers it’s really not fair to the other producers in the area.”
“Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, Argentina (<$20)"
“Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, California (<$23)"