Wine dinners can run up the tab over $100/person with tax and tip, and in this economy that can take a big bite out of the paycheck. Bianco PastaVino, on Blanco just outside Loop 410, offers a nice alternative. The third Monday of the month the restaurant has a five -course, five-wine, seated dinner for $30 each. Make reservations with Mariana Catano at (210) 524-2416 and come five or 10 minutes before the 7 p.m. start to meet the staff and other guests.

Novella, a 10-year-old vineyard in Pasa Robles on the Central California Coast, was featured the night we went. To start we had prosciutto and cheese with a nice, soft-tasting 2005 Sauvignon Blanc. The calamari sauteed in pimento came with a rich, plummy Merlot. Chicken Bola, a broiled chicken breast with a tangy sauce, was accompanied by Synergy 2006, a full-bodied blend of Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Petite Syrah. The oustanding veal roll was paired with a somewhat thin 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of plum and pear. To close we had a strawberry crepe with the 2005 Muscat Canelli, a fortified desset wine. Portions are modest, but you’re full by the end.

Bianco sells the wines, generally not available in San Antonio, at near-retail prices, by the bottle and by the case. 



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