Bastille Day: Liberty! Equality! French wine!
Prices for top Bordeaux and Burgundy continue to soar. Scanning the racks can be a humbling moment; in a restaurant, reading the B&B sections of the wine list usually provides some laughs, not a dinnertime companion.
But you still can find very good and better wines from France without either jarring the trade balance or picking solely by cost.
From the Rhône Valley, try the bright, fruity 2009 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($19); and the 2009 Chateau Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône Rouge ($18), a smooth red full of red berries, with a trace of pepper.
Affordable Beaujolais is an ideal way to celebrate. The 2009 Maison Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages ($12) delivers a juicy red package laced with spice; 2009 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages ($12), silky, floral, very fruity.
Pinot noir, Burgundy's great grape, makes a very good showing in the 2009 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Couvent des Jacobins ($20), straightforward and generous with red fruit. More complex and layered, dominated by black cherry: the ruby 2009 Joseph Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune Clos des Godeaux ($47), a beauty with subtlety, finesse and flair. Two Drouhin refreshing chardonnays: fruity, floral 2009 Joseph Drouhin Saint-Véran ($17) and refined, gilded 2009 Joseph Drouhin Rully ($20).
If you're committed to Bordeaux, a polished, ready-to-drink Saint-Émilion is the ripe, round 1999 Château Simard ($30).
And, worth the extra euros: the pretty, enticing, salmon-pink Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé ($48) -- a party in a bottle.