Summer is here, which means it’s time to dust off the grill and get ready for some backyard bbqing (even with all this fog). Along with rosés, no other wine complements baby back ribs, hot dogs, or steaks better than Zinfandels. However, Zinfandels are not known to be food friendly, because many of them are huge and monstrously powerful wines. The blast of rich, sometimes pruney fruit can be overbearing, and the hammer blow of the alcohol can be unpleasant. Zinfandels now commonly reach past 15% alcohol, often conveying an impression of sweetness that, combined with a thick texture, tends to blot out food. Sometimes they are actually sweet.
So why would we recommend Zinfandels with food then? Well, it is a uniquely American wine and nothing is more American than backyard bbqs. We want to feature the producers who we believe are making a more restrained style of Zins, lighter in body and lower in alcohol. This is often called the claret style, and we are celebrating these producers who are bringing Zinfandels back into the spotlight.
While you’re grabbing provisions for your summer grilling, check out these Zins to warm up those foggy grilling nights:
Broc Cellars “Vine Starr” Zinfandel Sonoma County, CA 2014 | $29.99
Chris Brockway has redefined what’s possible with Sonoma Zin. The Vine Starr shows the fresh and elegant side of Zin, with flavors of raspberry, pink peppercorns, and thyme. A Zinfandel that’s more like a fresh summer market than opening a jar of jam.
Dashe Les Enfants Terrible “Heart Arrow Ranch” Zinfandel Mendocino, CA 2015 | $24.99
Mike and Anne Dashe use organically grown grapes for their les Enfants Terribles series. This Zin is from a single-vineyard in Mendocino and complements its inherent fruitiness with rocks and wild herbs. Excellent with grilled meats.
Nalle Zinfandel Dry Creek, CA 2014 | $39.99
This wine is a step back in California time with dusty Dry Creek roads, candied violets, and potpourri on the nose, followed by cherry pie, molasses, and orange rind on the palate.