Zinfandel vs Diet Pepsi

It’s only a about a month away from the start of summer and that can only mean one thing: it’s time we start seeing zinfandel recommended to go with barbecued foods.

How Zin became associated with barbecue I don’t know. But it is. This is both a blessing and a curse as far as I can tell. One the one hand, lots of people love barbecue and need a wine to go with the various styles of grilling, slow cooking and searing that falls under the "barbecue" heading these days. That means more zinfandel sells. One the other hand, associating Zin with Barbecuing sort of relegates Zin to a second tier status as a wine since this style of cooking is not associated with high cuisine.

I personally don’t often drink zinfandel with Barbecue. If I am going to drink wine with my famed "Caramelcued Beef Ribs" rather than Diet Pepsi on the rocks, it’s almost always going to be a cold, dry rose or a sparkling wine of some sort. I like the extra traction my palate gets from the fizz and the acid.

So, now’s the time of year I start looking for good buys on good rose and good sparkling wine. I’m going to quaff and swill the stuff, drink a lot of it, and I don’t want to deal with much alcohol. I really don’t care what country it comes from as long as the Rose is dry, fruit forward, isn’t high n alcohol and has good acid, while the Sparkler needs only be dry, yeasty and under $25. Any suggestions are appreciated.

I suspect that it will be long after I’m gone when Zinfandel breaks out of its somewhat "pedestrian" box and is considered a noble grape, something recommended to be served with haut cuisine and other fancy foods, if it ever does. Perhaps to speed that along their needs to be some sort of concerted effort to get folks to age Zin (it can age beautifully), which automatically raises its stature or to get chefs and sommeliers to pair Zin with very small amounts of foods carefully presented on large white plates in restaurants where presentation competes with satisfaction. 

14 Responses

  1. KenW - May 14, 2007

    Korbel Natural Champagne – served at presidential inaugurations, Gold Medal and “Best of Show” at 2007 Monterey Wine Competition, Double Gold at 2007 West Coast Wine Competition. Fruit forward, crisp, yeasty. And, oh, $14.

  2. Sonadora - May 14, 2007

    Had an excellent Quivira Grenache Rose the other night that I think would fit your bill. Also, check out Catavino’s website, they just finished up a Rose tasting that many bloggers participated in. Lots of great reviews in their forums.

  3. Dan Cochran - May 14, 2007

    I guess it’s a good news/bad news scenario. As long as Zin is thought of as low-class, it will remain more affordable.

  4. Richard Shaffer - May 14, 2007

    Hi Tom:
    I strongly recommend Galil Mountain Rose from Israel, grown in the Upper Galilee, a blend of sangiovese, cab, and syrah.
    Gorgeous distinctive pink color, taste of strawberry. I think this wine is great for this time of year and great with food.
    We served it in our home this past Friday night.
    Winemaker Micah Vaadia is the new winemaker at Galil Mountain Winery – he does great work and is also a super nice guy.

  5. el jefe - May 14, 2007

    Who needs “high cuisine” when you have barbecue (and grilling)?
    I like lighter reds: pinot, grenache, rhone blends, etc. A slight chill (not ice cold but cooled down) makes them perfect with pork ribs or Santa Maria tritip.

  6. Ken - May 14, 2007

    I like well made, Zin but it has not been as impressive in recent years. My fondest memories are the 2001 Dry Creek region Zin’s or Cline’s Live Oak from 1997. They were special. I think Syrah & Pinot from CA have made improvements, that have hurt the growth of Zin. Everything runs and cycles, so hopefully the next time Zin makes a runs it can break on through to the other side. (Beyond burgers and ribs)

  7. Randy - May 14, 2007

    Yo Tommy,
    I braised three racks of baby back ribs for Mother’s Day. What did I use to braise it? A 2004 Dry Creek Fume Blanc. Drank a glass of it when I sat down to gorge myself on it too.
    White wine (with its acidity) really complements the oft-times sweet and salty goodness of BBQ. Of course, in my case it was braised in foil pouches on my grill, but hey, who’s checking? 🙂

  8. Drew Goin - May 14, 2007

    I prefer the Montes Cherub or a Tavel with sweet, sticky bar-b-que. As far as bargain sparklers, try the Monmousseau Brut from France or the Montsarra (sp?) Cava, which drinks like a sumo wrestler in high-heels (big body, deft acidity). Also, the elegance of the rose sparkler Tantarra (sp?) Brut Teche from Tasmania is a fruity and crisp foil for pork from the smoker.

  9. Kathleen - May 15, 2007

    I agree with a previous poster, why is it a sin to like BBQ with Zin?
    Americans eat alot more BBQ and casual restaurant food than fancy restaurant food. If you are a true wine lover, you shouldn’t hesitate to enjoy the wines you love most with the expensive food you love most, even if it’s “backyard” wine.
    With how much some people spend on their expensive cuts of meat and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ grills, Zinfandel is in some pretty good backyards.
    Wine and Stories from the Vineyard Blog – http://www.myspace.com/gamay

  10. Erwin Dink - May 20, 2007

    Tom, You say that Zin “can age beautifully” but I’ve always understood Zin to have a 4-7 year life span. In fact, I’m scrambling to drink some 2000 and 2001 Topolos Zinfandels that are fading fast. What factors would need to come into play during winemaking to ensure a long shelf life for Zin?

  11. Tina - May 25, 2007

    Why not try http://www.tastoria.com. Their next internet wine tasting event is on Friday, June 22, 2007 and the theme is “Summertime Sip ‘n’ Sizzle” with food pairings on the Bar-b-que. You can order your tasting pack of six wine online and have it delivered to your home. Invite friends and have a wine tasting party in your own home. On the evening of the event log-on and interact through the chat room with experts on the panel who will answer any questions live during the broadcast, or chat with other participants. It is so much fun…and educational.

  12. Michael - May 28, 2007

    Zardetto prosecco is fantastic ith BBQ, also check out Paso Robles Winery “sereum” 100% syrah rose…Fantastic!!!

  13. mary - December 27, 2007

    Hello, This is Mary
    I am 36 years old with 2 toddlers. My youngest just started day care last week- which still feels a little strange. I haven’t had this much time to myself in years. First thing I want to do is lose the extra pounds I put on during the last pregnancy. One of the girls next door has suggested I join her walking group two days a week. After my first pregnancy I lost around 35 pounds using the Herbalife products, but when I called the man that sold them to me three years ago he told me this week he doesn’t sell them anymore. He told me to look on the internet. It’s disappointing because he was really nice and he called me regularly to make sure I was using their products correctly. It was nice to have someone checking in with me every week to see how I was and it kept me motivated.
    I searched on the internet for someone that sells Herbalife in New Jersey. I found many websites but I don’t want
    just to buy the products, I want to find someone trustworthy that sells the products so I can also meet them and get started again.
    Could anybody here recommend someone in New Brunswick?
    Thanks, Mary

  14. liz - December 27, 2007

    Hi Mary,
    >From one mom to another I think I have a solution for you!! I want to lose 40 pounds, and I’ve lost 28 so far!!! I am feeling fantastic and have more energy than I did when I was in college. I went through three different Herbalife distributors until I found the person I felt really actually cared about me and helped me to start getting results. The bottom line was that I wanted to find somebody that could offer me good prices, but that could also check in with me to make sure I was doing ok.
    I used to drive two hours to meet with my first distributor in West Haven, Connecticut. I even brought the girls with me a few times because I couldn’t find a babysitter. Today my Herbalife coach does everything over the phone and it is much easier with my busy schedule. You can order Herbalife online on his website, you get the shakes a few days after with FedEx and then you can setup a telephone meeting once a week to make sure you are doing the program right.
    His name is Danny Castello and his website is http://www.goshape.com. The number is (310) 928- 3835. He and his girlfriend Michaela actually do most of the coaching together as a team, but she has an Herbalife site as well: http://www.puresteps.com. He does most of the motivation on the call and gives you important facts regarding nutrition. He can be a bit tough but he really wants you to get results. She is a bit softer- so they make a good combination. Actually I also recommend joining his newsletter first so you can see the articles on nutrition. They also have videos so you can see who they are before actually calling them. Its nice because they actually use the products too. You can see on their websites.
    Hope this helps!

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