Our February “value issue” has what I like to think of as the perfect antidote to all those pesky rumors of oncoming global recession: bargain Bordeaux wines, and the comfort foods to eat with them. Wine editor extraordinaire Ray Isle and Test Kitchen genius Marcia Kiesel handily divided Bordeaux up into three regions, with the Gironde, Dordogne and Garonne Rivers as the boundary lines: the Right Bank, notable for its fruity, Merlot-rich Pomerols and St-Émilions; the Left Bank, proud source of Cabernet Sauvignon–driven Châteaux Mouton Rothschild, Latour and Lafite; and the southern Pessac-Léognan and Graves appellations, producing earthy, smoky reds.

Few can afford Bordeaux grands crus, especially in this market, but Ray managed to find affordable, delicious alternatives like the Graves 2003 Château de Callac Cuvée Prestige and the pleasurable Left Bank 2002 Château Larose Trintaudon, both just $16. Marcia came up with unbelievably good dishes to match—like garlicky slow-roasted lamb shanks with orange-scented Swiss chard, and ingenious potato-bacon skewers—using ingredients that yield a lot more flavor than they cost. That’s a kind of inflation I can get behind.