It turns out between plonk and DRC there is at least one other tier of wine and name for it. It was The Deanster who recently introduced me to the term quaffing wines, your basic daily dinner wine that isn't plonk.
Also, sometimes you just want something decent to open while the rest of your stuff is incubating. The quaffs are each around $10. The two on the left are from Topline here in beautiful Glendale, California, and The Cicada is from K&L Hollywood.
The Bugey Gamay is the one most unlike the others. It's fun and fruity and different and a little strange. The Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone is safe and likable with some nice, delicate, simple layers. The Cicada, which I opened last weekend and got four more bottles of and already only have three now, was the most sophisticated and surprising: This for $10! Wow, that's pretty good! Like that. Even the winery refers to it as a pleasant "quaff."
This article about the best regions for good/cheap wine made the rounds this week. Though it opens with "Stop buying wine by choosing the bottle with your favorite animal on the logo," and I'm pretty sure a cicada is some kind of animal, it's still good for a gander. In the meantime, Happy Quaffing!