So much to share and so many anecdotes. I'll start by answering your most burning question: What do these two wines have in common? They're both Trader Joe's finds. They're also both great values (under $10 each). 

Let us begin with the Aglianico. I hadn't tried this varietal until I had the privilege of checking out Austin's newest Italian joint, Italic, at its soft opening a few weeks back. Italic is genuinely top-notch Italian dining with a knowledge of wine to match. The wine list is organized by region complete with a map, which I love, and gives a brief and general description of each region's wine character. Aglianico is from Southern Italy, and like its cuz, Nero d'Avola, it is a dark and deep grape. I'm getting a little off track here, but the point is, I tried Aglianico for the first time at Italic, thanks to their well-rounded and informative wine list. And, when I saw Aglianico recently as Trader Joe's, I decided to give the bottle a good home.

The 2011 Epicuro Aglianico from Trader Joe's: I've said it before and I'll say it again, the beauty of inexpensive wine is the guilt-free opening of a bottle for just about anything. I've had a pretty hectic week (will probably open a bottle after I post this) and have not been planning out meals June Cleaver style the way I usually do. So last night, Joel and I found ourselves returning from the store and starting in on a simple dinner a little later than usual. The menu: quick chicken picatta, steamed broccoli and sauteed mushrooms. The wine: well, you know. 

The bottle's label is black, which could be influencing me, but the color, the nose and even the first taste of this wine is all black -- blackberry, black cherry, even black licorice. I mean this in a good way, not in in a cloaked, sinister way. It is a little tight up front, but after 30 minutes or so, it opens up to a much fuller body and more floral aroma and taste. 

Now, let's go back in time to Easter. We prepared a pretty ridiculous spread of food considering it was just me, Joel and a friend. Somehow, though, there were very few leftovers... Roasted lamb shank with mint yogurt, smoked chicken with smoked apples and tomatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and asparagus, and crispy roasted potatoes, with blood oranges soaked in honey for dessert. You know, the usual around here. I wanted a lighter-bodied red wine to accompany the chicken and for general versatility. Also, it being brunch and all, I just wanted something lighter, period. 

I went with the 2013 Presswork Grenache from McLaren Vale, Australia. There's no link that I can find, sorry. On the nose, some definite raspberry and a little rose. On the palate the floral carries through and the wine is fruity and light-bodied. There is a hint of spice, but it is on the fresher end, not earthy or dark. If you're looking for light and versatile red wine, this is it.