New feature: Andiamo alla enoteca!

There’s a new feature popping up on occasion here at Take Back Your Kitchen, and it’s all about wine!  Let me offer this caveat, though–while we consider ourselves oenophiles, neither Michael nor I consider ourselves wine stewards or sommeliers, so consider this a break in the food coverage to share with you some delicious, inexpensive varietals and some great bottles that we’ve found that have accompanied our fantastic meals both from our (few) travels abroad as well as great finds from our local wine shops.

My philosophy on wine is pretty simple:  stick to a budget (with a few exceptions, my purchases usually range from $6-$13 a bottle, and those double-digit prices usually mean I’m saving them for a special occasion) and talk to your store’s proprietor or a knowledgable associate and the world of wine is open to you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re at Italian Wine Merchants (more on them later!) or your neighborhood shop–the people behind the counter know their stock and can give you amazing selections.

It’s funny–the inaugural bottle for this column wasn’t suggested to me by anyone at a store, but instead the various suggestions of certain grape blends


gathered over the years (as well, let’s face it, a great price) that led me to Isolda (2007), hailing from the Navarra region and one of the best Spanish blends I’ve tasted, at least for the price.

The wine is 70% Temperanillo, one of my favoite grapes due to its smoothness; 20% Garancha, adding a dry bite as the wine rolls to the back of the tongue; and a 10% blend of Merlot and Cab grapes, adding berry notes that dance at the tip of the tongue.  It’s a bit tart, but it’s a nice medium-bodied wine that goes well with pasta or perhaps some delicious tapas.  This is one of those wines to buy by the case if you really like it, as you’ll be tempted to keep it on hand for all occasions, whether you need a solid table red to serve at dinner that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser, or a delicious red in which to marinate and cook some amazing chorizo.  It’s not a pretentious wine, and the price proves it–whether at The Wine Thief or at BevMax, I can find it for $7 a pop, which, in this day and age, is a fabulous deal.

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