Lazio to Paso Robles: “if you see kay” #ItalianFWT

if you see kay from Lazio

April is Earth Month, so each April here on Wine Predator we try to turn our attention to wines that pay attention to the triple bottom line: planet, people, AND profit. That’s typically organic and biodynamic wines, and we’ve also discussed the different and somewhat confusing plethora of certifications amid concerns of greenwashing. 

One way that people are trying to save a buck AND the planet is by shipping bulk wine which costs less and uses fewer resources which I learned from a session during the Wine Future 2021 Conference. 

Bulk wine being shipped and bottled at location may be more responsive to climate change pondered David Pearson. However, Gloria Valles pointed out that with bulk wine you lose the identity via packaging and bottle. Liz Thach suggested that most customer don’t know the difference between bulk and terroir wine; most grocery store wine is under $11. Because consumers generally don’t understand this, it’s better for a winery to tell the story about sustainability– and with the growth in online sales over store sales, it’s easier for interested consumers to learn the history and the environmental aspects of a wine. E-commerce grew from 5% online wine sales to a 198% increase with 44% of online sales to Gen X and Millennials. Online brings in new and younger consumers– and offers a different way to tell the story behind the wine, one that can be expanded to go into better depth once that story is written and uploaded to the website. 

So what sells the wine? Especially one with no real clue about what’s inside?

if you see kay with Ima Zinner

I’m usually not lured by fancy labels or “fantasy” names.

But IF YOU SEE KAY got me. My lifelong friend Kay aka Kathy aka Ima Zinner was going through some tough times so when I saw this label with this name it made me think of her– how strong and resourceful she has had to be to deal with what she’s dealing with. The wine has a 2011 vintage, and among other challenges, she was working and taking care of her dad with Alzheimers who, in 2011, she had to place in a home two hours away from where she lived.

So it didn’t matter much to me what was INSIDE the bottle: I was going for the name and for the label. I was assured by staff at the Cave in Ventura that the wine was good, and a great value at under $20. 

Fast forward. Whenever Kathy came to visit, we’ve had other wines to share or wines that have been opened or this red wine was not what we wanted with our meal (hello bubbles!).  

While I didn’t know much about the wine, I did know the grapes came from Lazio so when I learned that Katerina Anderson was featuring Lazio for Italian FWT…

An Invitation to Explore the Wines of Lazio with #ItalianFWT

I knew it was time to taste it — with or without Kathy who I have not seen much of in the past year due to COVID, although she did come over to see me recently when my dad died, and she sat with me outside on the deck. But a week ago Friday she got her second COVID vaccine  and Sue will have hers soon. Side note: I met Sue when we were 12 and Kathy when we were 13!

And then surprise surprise, Kathy was able to stop by and enjoy a glass of the wine with me! And she agreed to let me take her picture with the bottle for the blog — then she took the empty home! 

So while I have no idea whether or not it was imported in bulk or by the bottle because I couldn’t find that information in my limited time sleuthing, I suspect that this is the case.

And now for more about LAZIO!

Lazio is located on the coast just below Tuscany just below the knee or on the “shin” part of Italy’s boot. For me it didn’t ring a bell until I realized that ROME is in Lazio! Most people visit Lazio to go to Rome which is full of history and art, but less famous for wine than its neighbors.

Similar to Napa and Paso Robles, the climate in Lazio offers warm, dry days in summer which builds power and structure while proximity to the sea brings cooling breezes in the afternoon which balances acidity and preserves aromatics.

Perhaps surprisingly, white wine grapevines in Lazio out numbers reds, and merlot is 40% of what’s produced. Grapes indigenous to the region include Nero Buono and Primitivo, but it’s also ideal for growing international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot in addition to merlot. More than 200 grape varieties grow in Lazio.

While they say all roads lead to Roma, this wine from Lazio leads to Paso Robles.

if you see kay

And what a delicious trip it is! 


  • Green salad with oranges and avocado with a citrus honey dressing
  • Sautéed chard
  • Lasagna (made for me by Kristen Schubert when she learned my died had died)

if you see kay by the glass

2011 “If You See Kay” Red Blend  IGT Lazio 
ABV 13.5% 
SRP $20
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 5% Primitivo from Lazio, Italy.

They say this wine is “inspired by author James Joyce’s 1922 masterpiece Ulysses, which was banned in the United States until 1934, and the evocative art of Montreal-based tattoo artist Chen-Jeh Chen…If You See Kay embodies the principle of living life to the fullest and saying IYSK to the status quo.”

In 2018, Vintage Wine acquired If You See Kay and wines seem to be blends exclusively from Paso Robles in central California. 

The name and the label totally catch our attention. Quality product for a great price. This bottle is all about the marketing. The label and the name is so eye catching and kitchey, but what’s inside is surprisingly good. 

Color: Maroon with a brick color rim. Super dense, looks unfined and unfiltered.

Great color for somebody who is out to get blood. 

Nose: Plum, bramble berry, herbs, Nichols, sage, Dr. Pepper, sarsaparilla, fennel, pepper spices, baking spices. Very spicy nose. 

Palate: Super powerful. Juicy, smooth, and acidic, big bodied wine. Lots of flavor, lots of fruit including the ones on the nose as well as a super ripe fresh organic sweet strawberry; it has a nice zing. This is not a flabby wine at all. If we were to guess we would say this is a Primitivo. If I would have tasted this wine 8 years ago, I would have gone back and bought a few more bottles, but then again, it may not have tasted like this 8 years ago. There is nice red clay earthen notes. Bitter cocoa, unsweetened chocolate. 

Pairing: This unpretentious wine would go well with many unpretentious foods. Think pizza, pasta, burgers, bbq. Super fun wine to bring to a bbq. Great with a citrus avocado salad, Rich wine handles the richness of the avocado, the honey citrus salad dressing was not too sweet and was a perfect companion. This was a nice light summer salad that was great with the wine. Great with the fresh basil in the ricotta cheese within the lasagna. Overall the wine became a bit too sweet and the lasagne tasted sweet, maybe if there was a bit of spinach or chard in the lasagne it would be a better contrast. This is a very rich wine.

The Roman version of arancini is supplì — risotto wrapped around a mozzarella chunk and shaped as an oblong. YUM!  If you decide to go with pizza, the Naples version is with a thick crust, almost as thick as focaccia and it’s more oblong or rectangular than round. 

For vegetables, artichokes are a favorite as are two bitter greens, types of chicory, that are often served along side; we went with chard: “Puntarelle are usually eaten raw in a salad with olive oil, vinegar, raw garlic and anchovies, while cicoria ripassata is a dish that sautees pre-boiled chicory with garlic and pepperoncino” I learned here. If you want to check out traditional dishes of the region, here’s ten to try. I think coda alla vaccinara aka oxtail stew would pair well with this wine. 

if you see kay

Find more posts about Italy’s wine regions with pairings by using the search bar for #ItalianFWT. 

Learn about Lazio from other bloggers in the Italian Food Wine Travel group: 

Twitter Questions for #ItalianFWT, April 3rd about Wine in Lazio, 8am Pacific time– just search the hashtag:
  • 11:00 a.m. EST Welcome to the #ItalianFWT chat about the Wines of #Lazio. Introduce yourself, please. Share the links to your articles!
  • 11:05 a.m. EST Q1 #ItalianFWT | The Wines of #Lazio might be less known on an international level, especially those made with native grapes. What did you know about wines from Lazio before today?
  • 11:10 a.m. EST Q2 #ItalianFWT | Viticulture and winemaking date back to periods such as the Etruscans and the Roman era. Until recently, as a wine region it has been more in the shadow. Any thoughts as to why?
  • 11:15 a.m. EST Q3 #ItalianFWT | What bottle(s) did you choose for this event? Share a pic and your thoughts.
  • 11:20 a.m. EST Q4. #ItalianFWT | Native grapes are back in fashion also in Lazio. Did you choose a wine made with a native grape? Which one? Did you enjoy it and why?
  • 11:30 a.m. EST Q5 #ItalianFWT | Did you pair your wine with food? What type of cuisine pairs well with Lazio wines according to you?
  • 11:35 a.m. EST Q6 #ItalianFWT | Have you ever been to Rome and Lazio? Do you have a favorite spot? Share pics if you have them!
  • 11:45a.m. EST Q7 #ItalianFWT | Did you know that 80% of the vineyards in #Lazio are planted with white grape varieties? Still, we hear more about their red than their white wines in general. Why do you think that is?
  • 11:50 a.m. EST Q8 #ItalianFWT | There is a variety of micro-climates and soil types – lakes, volcanic soil – in Lazio. Tell us something about the area & terroir where your wine was made?
  • 11:55 a.m. EST Q9 #ItalianFWT | Any final thoughts on wine in Lazio and Italian food, wine and travel in general?
  • 11:59 a.m. EST Thank you! Next #ItalianFWT “It’s All About Barbera” will be hosted by @artpredator and you’re invited! Find details

2 thoughts on “Lazio to Paso Robles: “if you see kay” #ItalianFWT

  1. Such a great story about an interesting wine. The whole idea of shipping bulk wine to package in the market it will be sold in, is environmentally sound and quite practical. It sadly leaves out much of the romance. I am so torn on the concept. You make a good point that much of this would be for wines that are made in much higher quantities and as such would not need the romantic stories.
    I often wonder about the growler idea for wines. In Virginia and Oregon, there are places that have keg wines that can then fill to-go growlers. Perhaps this might be a future concept for the sale of wines from smaller wineries? I could get on board with that. Picking up a growler of something special that the person pouring would be able to tell me about.

    Liked by 1 person

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