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Sicily in a Glass: Nero d'Avola

With winter in full swing, I've been drinking red wine to fend off the chill. And one of my go-to everyday reds is from Italy - Sicily, to be precise.

With winter in full swing, I've been drinking red wine to fend off the chill. And one of my go-to everyday reds is from Italy - Sicily, to be precise. Nero d'Avola is the grape (pronounced NEH-roe Dah-VOE-lah) and it makes a full-bodied red full of spice, plum, and raspberry. Historically it was a pathetic excuse for a wine; the grape is indigenous to Sicily and it was thrown in red blends. But Sicilian winemakers have stepped up their game in the past 10years and are now making excellent Nero d'Avola. It's also a fabulous value - it runs $10 to $35, but you can get a tasty bottle for around $10.

The Italians make wine to pair with food, so plan your meal around this wine. Pair it with anything big and bold: grilled meats, pasta with pesto, and anything with black olives or garlic - especially that fiery Sicilian pasta dish Spaghetti Puttanesca.

One of my favorite bottles is the 2007 Colosi Nero d'Avola, a full-bodied, knock-your-socks-off kind of wine -- at an amazing price ($11.99). Ask for it at your local wine store or order it online from K&L Wine Merchants in California.

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