Zinfandel…the great American grape
Belkin, category manager for our Wines &
Spirits Shops, explains why Zinfandel is one of the best wines to serve at
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!