Sometimes, selecting a good, inexpensive bottle of red wine to have with dinner is one of the difficult wine-buying decisions you can make.

“It’s a very personal choice,” says Keith Biffle, the manager of the  Cost Plus World Market in Old Town, “and that makes it easier said than done. Think about the kind of wine you’ve had in the past, what you liked about it,  and then try to find something similar.”

These are the kinds of wines the French call vin ordinare — a bottle  to have with dinner on a Tuesday night, or something to sip if you have  friends over on the weekend. You don’t go out of your way to buy them, but  they are always handy to have around.

Consider, for example, these recommendations by Biffle:

Bodega Norton Malbec 1997 ($7). This Argentinean wine is made with  the malbec grape, little used in the United States. It’s fruity, but not as dry as  hardier red wines like cabernets.

Hess Select Cabernet ($10). As reliable as any bottle you’ll find.  All Hess Selects, red and white, provide good value.

Concannon Assemblage 1997 ($18). This blend costs a little more,  but well worth it. Won a gold medal at a recent Dallas wine competition.

(Note: the wine featured in the photo is a  Riparoso ’97 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a dry red Italian wine popular with La Dolce Vita customers. The drink is a Mascolini, the restaurant’s twist on the traditional belini, made with champagne, peach nectar Schnapps and a “snip” of rum.)

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