The weather’s heating up and barbeque season is here. One of my favorite combos is a sweet and spicy, smokey barbeque sauce paired with a perfect red Zinfandel wine. This common grape varietal is believed to have been born in Italy. Though Zin is grown all over the state of California, from Mendocino to Paso Robles, to the heart of Sonoma and Napa, DNA has linked American Zinfandel grapes to Primativo genetically, Italian red Zinfandel. Planted by Italian immigrants in California, the Primativo grape is less intense in flavor than most American Zinfandels, however, it is still a fruit filled wine. A great example of Italian Zinfandel to try from Puglia is from the estate of Masseria Altemura, their Sasseo Primativo is aged in French oak for 12 months, with jammy red fruit flavors on the nose, velvety soft tannins, and is 100% Primativo. It gets 3 bones on the Brunello scale!

Lodi, California, is the self- proclaimed Capital of American Zinfandel. It’s the place referred to in the Creedence Clearwater Revival song with the line “…Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again…” not a bad place to be if you like Red Zin. One of our favorites at Ed’s is the Michael David winery, who produce many different forms of red Zinfandel. The newly released Freakshow Zinfandel is available in 750 ml bottles, and if you really want to get your Freak on, we now carry the Freakshow Zin in 187 ml cans. Same quirky Freak labels showcasing the Fire Mistress; a good wine in a can that is easily transportable. Bright fruit and spice characteristic with cherry, pepper and subtle oak. I give it two bones!

The Seghesio family farms vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek and the Russian River Valleys of CA. Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel is a heady, flavorful Zin with notes of black plum, black raspberry and tobacco. Ted Seghesio is the winemaker for the family winery that dates back to 1895, and is well known for their rich Zinfandels. The 2016 Sonoma Zin received 93 from Wine Spectator. I give it three bones!

About half way between San Diego and San Francisco the wine region of Paso Robles is growing and gaining momentum for many wine varietals of great quality to price ratio. The Bianchi family has been farming in Paso Robles for three generations, their Bianchi Signature Selection Zinfandel shows notes of jammy red plum and raspberry, vanilla, and ends with a hit of peppercorns and a long black cherry and Asian spice finish. Perfect with ribs and an Asian barbeque sauce- I give it two bones!

A little further north in the heart of Napa, Frank Family Winery is a small boutique vineyard. The wines are hand crafted and are only available in fine shops and restaurants. Frank Family Zinfandel has a deep scarlet hue, the nose has a savory quality of pepper, leather and brambly fruit and dried orange rind. It’s medium bodied and silky with huge notes of dark berries on the lingering finish. I give it three bones!

Stop on by and browse our large selection of Zinfandel wines in a variety of flavor profiles and price selections- and pair it up with your next backyard barbeque, yum!



 By Brunello Giancola as told to CRBrown