, , , , ,

I’m a self-professed wino and despite my family’s impeccable taste for wine, I tend to find something affordable and stick to it.  I consider myself to have decent taste (well, at least for my age) and I’m a HUGE fan of Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck.  My sister and I recently realized that it tastes significantly more expensive better on the second day so I try to open the bottle and let it decant for as long as possible.  I recently bought an aerator and this is one wine where it truly makes a difference.  Dojaolo wine

Anyway, my sister sent me an article from the New York Times on Memorable Bottles of Wine for $20.  I actually haven’t tried any of these, but it’s definitely a good reference guide!  My top picks for affordable wine (just from my own experience) are below. (Prices are just estimated.)

  • Layer Cake – ($15) the Primitivo is an excellent Italian wine that proves screw-top wine can be classy.
  • Apothic Red – ($11) this California blend is my favorite wine, prices aside. It has that thick blackberry taste and I’m pretty much in love.
  • Dogajolo Toscano – ($10) characterized as a “super Tuscan” this is one my family has been drinking for a while and it never disappoints.

Disclaimer: I clearly don’t drink white wine … unless it’s in sangria or I’m using it to cook.  My father always told me: “You don’t drink white unless you’re out of red.”  It’s just the way I was raised.

What are some of your favorite budget-friendly wines?

On to today’s recipe….

My cook book shelf is not very diverse.  In addition to my personal compilation of recipes, I have 2 of Giada’s books and 2 from Barefoot Contessa – what can I say, I know what I like!  So, rather than turning to Pinterest for the latest dinner ideas, I pulled one of these off the shelf and made one of the recipes I’ve been meaning to try this summer – Barefoot Contessa’s Watermelon & Arugula Salad.  I only made slight modifications, which are included below. 🙂

Watermelon & Arugula Salad

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That?

IngredientsWatermelon & Arugula Salad

  • 1/2 pound baby arugula leaves
  • 2 pounds seedless watermelon, 3/4-inch-diced (I used ¼ of a large watermelon)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2-pound chunk Parmesan cheese


Place the arugula and watermelon in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Pour enough dressing on the arugula to moisten. Toss well and place on salad plates.

With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan into large shards and sprinkle them on the arugula and watermelon.

*If the watermelon tastes too salty, sprinkle some additional lemon juice on top.