There are many tricks to finding a good wine. If you find that you enjoy wine writing "almost" as much as wine drinking, one way to achieve this is to follow a critic whose preferred tastes seem to go along with your own. The Library has many titles for you to explore including the California Grapevine, Decanter, Wine Advocate, Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator.
Each of these will have ratings and point systems, often for some pretty pricey wine. They will also occasionally have reviews on "best buy" wines, but there is one publication, Wine Discoveries, that should appeal to folks who want to read about wine that won't be breaking the bank. Started in El Cerrito in 1977, Wine Discoveries described itself as "the guide to exceptional wines under four dollars" (now the price limit is "...under eight dollars"). This newsletter provides concise reviews of generally recommended reds and whites and then often has two special sections that concentrate on a specific varietal or region. Each entry has tasting notes, a range of prices that the wines have been offered for, and (especially helpful) at which Bay Area vendor/s the wine can be found.
For a thought-provoking article regarding the quality of wines along the price gradient, check out Dan Berger's "Wine Ancient and Modern" in the Commentary section of the October-November 2008 issue of California Grapevine. His conclusion that some "Tuesday" night (read: cheaper) wines are often more structurally sound than many of the higher price offerings may intrigue you.