Bad wine can often be traced back to improper storage. You can avoid that issue by buying bottles aged before release in ideal storage conditions by their producers.
2007 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva ($26) For Rioja to be labeled Reserva, it has to be aged three years (at least one in barrel) before release. Murrieta holds its Reserva back even longer: The balanced, cherry-dense current release is seven years old.
2009 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva ($28) Two years in oak (in a dreamy little medieval Tuscan village) and two in bottle give this wine cinnamon notes and approachable tannins.