The end of zinfandel as we know it

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?

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3 thoughts on “The end of zinfandel as we know it

  • By Rich Coughlan - Reply

    Oh my. Not one zin could satisfy you?
    Here’s a suggestion. Next January 27th get on a plane to San Francisco for the ZAP Festival.
    I attended for the first time this year and am already saving my pennies for next year. The wine and pairing evening at Ft. Mason was just wonderful: great food and cheese, zins of every imaginable style, and friendly, well informed and helpful reps. It was the highlight of my winter.
    You will find a zin for every taste, for every food pairing, and for every budget. Sure there are lots of hot wines made from overripe grapes. And Helen Turley isn’t the only one who can produce and sell zins for more than $50/bottle. And yes, if you want table wine, it shouldn’t taste like port.
    Try to attend, and give us your updated assessment of zins when you return.

  • By Jeff Siegel - Reply

    Actually, and this will date me, I remember the first ZAP. And the ZAP road show will be in Dallas in May. My ticket, I’m told, is in the mail.
    I want to find zinfandel to drink. I want the brambly, spicy zingy wine that I have been drinking for 20 years. Hopefully, I’ll find some.

  • By Rich Coughlan - Reply

    Yo Jeff, the first ZAP! I’m surprised you can still ambulate. Do you get a discount for being Medicare-eligible? All kidding aside, you cowboys have all the luck. The closest the road show gets to DC is Atlanta or Detroit.
    I’m sure you’ll find something you like nest month. You would be surprised how many “old school” reps I met at ZAP. They know what you are looking for. Good luck. I look forward to reading your report

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