I love merlot. My father, who qualifies as even more of a wine snob than I, throws his nose up in the air on the mere thought of drinking the varietal as he classifies the fruit as a simple blending grape to soften the bold cabernets from Bordeaux. Thanks to Paul Giamatti’s likeable, yet troubled, character in “Sideways,” a gem of a movie set in the Santa Barbara wine region, I get to drink merlot at bargain basement prices.*** Cuvaison and Swanson’s elegant offerings still price well below $30 while a superb Markham goes in the mid-teens. Even Duckhorn, the king of all Napa merlots, prices its flagship label under $40 when it used to list close to $60 prior to the release of the film.