8 years ago

Zinfandel…the great American grape


Bill Belkin, category manager for our Wines & Spirits Shops, explains why Zinfandel is one of the best wines to serve at your BBQ.

The “governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger tried mightily to get this quintessentially American grape to be named the California state grape…but failed to gain a majority support in the assembly house. This only shows just how popular the Zinfandel grape – an eastern European varietal – is here in its adopted home in America. Versatile, adaptable, long-lived – this grape does have characteristics that any American could rightfully be proud of!

The vines that produce the best Zins are indeed “old vines,” many well over 100 years old. Gnarly, head-pruned and dry-farmed, these older vines have deep roots that struggle to find any water. As a result, their berries are not plentiful and the ones the vine does produce are small and intensely flavored.

Some of the best Zins on our shelves include Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Lodi; the prices can vary from under $10 for younger, fruitier versions to well over $50 for the coveted examples from Turley, Ridge and Robert Biale. Napa, too, can produce some staggeringly good Zins with their trademark rose fragrance and softer lines than their Sonoma counterpart.

Zinfandel is also the correct wine for BBQ fare. The fact that all Zins are aged in oak barrels gives the wines a vanilla-scented softness that holds up against saucy, spicy outdoor foods. If flavor and intensity are what you seek, ask any of our wine managers for help in selecting a great Zin at a price point you wish. You
will not be disappointed!