I think one of the most versatile — and underappreciated wines — is Zinfandel. This wonderful varietal produces very aromatic wines of medium acidity, medium to high tannins and medium to dry sweetness. If Zinfandel were in politics, it would be a good middle-of-the-roader. Applying this wine to food, Zinfandel can go with a wide range of food and textures.
One of the most “perfect” pairings is Zinfandel and a piece of dark chocolate. Don’t believe me? Go to Mrs. Nelson’s Candy Shop, buy a nice chunk of 100 percent dark chocolate, poor a glass of Zanfandel and try this combination for dessert after a pleasurable meal. Quality Zinfandels from California and Italy — the grape is called “Primitivo” in the Old Country — most famously fill the mouth with cherry-chocolate flavors. Raspberry and mocha also come through, depending on the terroir and wine-making process.
But Zinfandel isn’t a one-trick pony. It also takes center stage on most Thanksgiving Day tables. That’s because Zinfandel’s acidity and medium body hold up well to thick gravies that usually accommodate roasted turkey and mashed potatoes. The strong fruit aromas also make Zinfandel a star among the many American side dishes.
So, when I was looking for bargains, I came across Project Paso Zinfandel which is made in Paso Robles located in California’s Central Coast region. Warm days and cool nights produce intensely-flavored grapes and a beautiful dark-ruby colored wine. At 8.99 a bottle, this is a best buy for the rich, smooth taste. My review, which appeared in the August 8 issue of WhatdoUwannado published in The Sun, appears below.
No. 8: Project Paso Zinfandel, Paso Robles, CA, $8.99 — Now here’s a medium-to-full-bodied wine that says “heat” the second it’s poured into the bottle. You can smell it in the pepper-infused blackberry aromas. Match heat with heat as they say, so this is a great pairing for spicy dishes and meats. Zinfandel loves sweet BBQ sauces and Creole, Mexican and Thai dishes. Even sausage and green pepper pizza is a good companion. The label says this is a “Project” and to the Don Sebastiani & Sons Winery that means producing a better wine each year from grapes grown at three separate vineyards. The chocolate-covered cherry flavors that surface mid-palate gives this a distinctive edge over similarly priced bottlings. Expect a warm, spicy finish.