This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2006.

Back in the U.S.A.

Back home from Italy and full of happy memories of Tuscan food and wine, I was tempted to whip up something inspired by my restaurant experiences in Siena for dinner last night.

But reality spoke with a louder voice, and in the woozy aftermath of a 22-hour travel day, combined with a supply of okra in the fridge that had been fresh when I left last week, a simple, American-style meal seemed like a more practical idea.

The dinner part was easy: A simple sausage gumbo with rice required little mental or physical effort; and the slumgullion-style mélange neatly obscured any browned and wizened bits on the okra. For extra credit, the dinner provided a fine opportunity to carry on my never-ending quest to pair dry table wines with fiery dishes.

This time - in contrast with my recent pairing of a slightly sweet, gently fizzy artisanal Lambrusco with another Cajun dish, red beans and rice - I tried a smooth, fruity, low-tannin but properly acidic California red, KitFox 2003 "Foxy" red table wine that had been a recent California Wine Club selection. It worked out well: The flavors were surprisingly complementary, and the wine's literally mouth-watering acidity seemed to create a palate environment that helped quench the spicy heat of the Cajun fare.

Foxy KitFox 2003 "Foxy" California Red Table Wine ($14.99)

Dark blackish-purple color, ruby glints against the light. Appealing fruit aromas, blackberries and blueberries and plums, are echoed in fresh-fruit flavors so juicy that they almost seem sweet, but snappy acidity provides balance and food-friendliness, with alcohol at a hearty but rational 13.5%. A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah, it's a very user-friendly red, but there's plenty here to satisfy more serious "wine geeks." (Oct. 24, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: The wine's forward fruit, mouth-watering acidity and relatively modest tannins worked very well as a flavor match and reasonably well as a quencher with a spicy Cajun-style okra gumbo.

VALUE: Well-matched against the competition in the mid-teens, but note that you may be able to find it well below this winery retail price.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's holding up well, although its synthetic cork argues against holding it much longer. I'd drink this vintage over the next year.

The winery Website includes background about the KitFox winery, its vineyards and the wines. There's a list of state distributors in the U.S., and a fax order form for online buying:

Compare prices and find vendors for KitFox "Foxy" on

This, with the Foxy White, was a recent monthly selection from California Wine Club. The popularity of this pair made it a quick sellout, but it couldn't hurt to call the club at 1-800-777-4443 to see if they've got any left.