I have been writing an annual zinfandel column for about as long as I have had a publication or blog to write one for. The Wine Curmudgeon has always championed zinfandel as America’s national wine – cheap, well-made red wine that is food friendly and a lot more interesting than Australian shiraz or cute label merlot.
Sadly, however, I’m giving up the cause. I can’t find enough zinfandel to recommend anymore. Today, too many zinfandels are pricey, high alcohol bombshells that have more in common with port than with table wine. And, from what I’ve been told, those wines have permanently replaced the ones that I liked. I mentioned my dilemma to one well-known zinfandel maker, and he wasn’t even aware there used to be another style.
The final straw came this week, when I pulled a variety of zinfandels out of the wine closet in a last, desperate attempt to find some to write about. None was less than 14.5 percent alcohol and most were higher than 15 percent. And, unbelievably, each cost $18 or more. What was most disappointing though, is that they were as tannic as cabernet sauvignon, hot (which means you could taste the alcohol), unbalanced, and almost devoid of the tell-tale zinfandel fruit.
So, so long, my friend. We had fun, didn’t we?
For more on zinfandel: