Picking up wine at the same time you're picking up ingredients for dinner can be risky. Grocery store wine aisles are spotty at best, and you're on your own when it comes to figuring out the organizational system.

Picking up wine at the same time you're picking up ingredients for dinner can be risky. Grocery store wine aisles are spotty at best, and you're on your own when it comes to figuring out the organizational system.

The wine department at the Brewer's Yard Kroger is working against that perception.

"In this area, most people buy wine. They really like the wine," said Wayne Kayce, wine department manager. "I get complimented on how big it is, how nice, how good the selection."

Since the grocery store's wine department expanded last summer, they've added a tasting machine on the bistro patio that offers tastes or glasses of nine or more featured wines. And a refrigerated wall inside, opened in the last few weeks, keeps select wines at cellar temperature.

In addition to carrying the Barefoot and boxed wines ubiquitous at grocery stores, Kroger's selection includes a range of major varietals from across the country and globe.

Their weekly "Friday at 5" events draw a decent crowd - $10 gets you wine samples matched with small plates in Kroger's bistro, along with live music.

Here, Kayce suggests some of the worldly but approachable wines found in his department.


Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages (2007)

Region: Beaujolais, France

Cost: $14

Flavors: Not too dry, not too fruit-forward, with a tinge of sweetness. Drinks well chilled.

Pairs well with: Pasta with tomato-based sauce

Wayne Kayce's advice: "It's made from the gamay grape. It's very, very pleasant, a very drinkable wine, and it's one of my favorites."


Main Street Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

Region: California

Cost: $11

Flavors: Smooth cherry, chocolate and a bit of spice with moderate acidity and tannins

Pairs well with: Beef dishes like pot roast

Wayne Kayce's advice: "They make a chardonnay, cabernet and a merlot. I suggest the cabernet. It runs $18.99, and until June or July, it's almost half that."


Recanati Chardonnay (2007)

Region: Galilee, Israel

Cost: $16

Flavors: Tropical fruit, lemons and floral flavors; medium-bodied and only somewhat dry

Pairs well with: Poultry or pasta with a white sauce

Wayne Kayce's advice: "This is very nice. And with Passover coming up, this is perfect, because it's Kosher. I'd like to bring some more Israeli wine in, but there's only so much shelf space."