Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A wine tour of sunny Italy for under $5 a bottle

Fifteen bottles of red wine were sent to me by The Italian Wine Club. The introductory case cost about $4.66 a bottle, including the shipping charge.

Editor's note: Today's post discusses the good deals you can get by joining a wine club; carbohydrates in pasta, quinoa and rice; and a boycott on buying giant bluefin tuna.


I've taken advantage of another introductory offer from a wine club -- this time 15 bottles of red wine from Italy -- with no obligation to buy more.

In the past, I've "joined" wine clubs sponsored by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Zagat and Laithwaites to get cases of red and white wine at low introductory prices.

My 15 bottles from The Italian Wine Club (Giordano) works out to about $4.66 a bottle.

My order was fulfilled by a retailer in Glassboro, Hops and Grapes.

The bottles include a Barbera D'Asti, Sicilia Rosso, Chianti, Nebbiolo D'Alba, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, Pinot Nero and Sangiovese, all from 2010-12.

The wines come from Piedmont, Tuscany, Abruzzo, 
Apulia and Sicily.

I placed my order over the phone with a woman in Italy who spoke fluent, Italian-accented English.

Ciao, bella.

The Italian Wine Club (Giordano), 1-866-305-8275 (mention code 20572). 

Web site: The Italian Wine Club

Imported organic whole-wheat linguine from Whole Foods Market in Paramus with bottled pasta sauce, anchovies and Moroccan sardines.

Counting carbs

Of course, I'll be enjoying the imported wine I just received with organic whole-wheat pasta, quinoa and brown rice.

I looked at the nutrition labels and compared carbohydrates for a serving of 2 ounces or 56 grams, unless otherwise noted:

I found the fewest carbs -- 31 grams -- in Tru Roots Organic Quinoa from Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, but the serving size listed is 46 grams.

Garofalo 100% Whole Wheat Pappardelle from Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood has 33 grams per serving.

The conventional pappardelle from Garofalo is also available at Jerry's, but a serving contains 44 grams of carbohydrates.

Artisan egg pasta from Italy with Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto from Costco Wholesale. Like the wine I drank, the basil in the refrigerated pesto is from Italy.

Filotea-brand Tagliatelle, an artisan egg pasta from Italy I found at Costco Wholesale, has 39 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti has 41 grams of carbohydrates, and both Whole Foods Market Organic Whole Wheat Shells and Organic Whole Wheat Linguine have 42 grams per serving.

Lundberg Organic Brown Long Grain Rice from Amazon.com has 35 grams of carbohydrates per serving (45 grams).

I rely on whole-wheat pastas, brown rice and quinoa as substitutes for the bread and pizza I've gave up a few years ago to lose weight and keep it off.

Pasta, pesto and wine

I uncorked a Barbera D'Asti, one of the bottles I received on Monday,  and had a glass with 4 ounces of that artisan egg pasta, which took just 4 minutes to cook up perfectly al dente.

I tossed the tagliatelle with two big tablespoons of Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto. Extraordinary.

I finished my meal with a bowl of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix -- still only $4.99 a pound at Costco -- dressed simply in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Pears from Costco Wholesale, left, and mangoes from H Mart in Little Ferry.

Bluefin boycott

In recent years, I've been avoiding giant bluefin tuna for health and moral reasons.

Unfortunately, the extraordinary bluefin is the most expensive and highest in harmful mercury, and I try to find yellowfin or other tunas when I'm ordering sushi or sashimi.

The voracious appetite of the Japanese for bluefin has led to overfishing, and giant tunas are now being farmed in Spain.

So, I've also been boycotting the annual bluefin tuna "cutting" at Mitsuwa Marketplace, the big Japanese supermarket in Edgewater.

Workers reduce one of the giant tunas to sashimi slices as people crowd forward to buy the prized belly meat for around $75 a pound.

The demonstrations are scheduled for this weekend.


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