A great wine next to zinfadel?

meyermike_1micha(5)April 24, 2008

What is one of the best tasting wine you can buy? I am use to drinking only white zinfidel because it is not sweet, nor dry. Is there any other that is out of this world?

Comprable to zinfidel?

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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

For those of us who don't like white zinfandel that would be hard to say.
I suggest you try an Ice Wine...the depth of flavor is amazing. And it comes in small bottles so you don't have to have a lot left over.

Here is a link that might be useful: icewine

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 11:08PM
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White zin is considered sweet. Not as sweet as ice wine (Eiswein) which is a dessert wine.

You might try a top pinot noir. It will be completely dry, but the fruit may provide what one might consider "great taste." Try something from Oregon or Washington.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 7:22PM
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scaldude(Sunset Z23 SouthOC)

Yes, White Zin is considered "sweet".....it is classified as a "Blush" wine. I call it an "entry-level" wine or Kool-Aid with a kick. Don't despair, your palate will become more sophisticated over time.

There are many blush wines, including, White Merlot and a variety of wines generically called Rose'.

I never did the wine-in-a-box, but I graduated to Carlo Rossi Vin Rose' after drinking Boon's Farm as a teen....ROTFLMAO

On hot days, I still enjoy the occasional "blush" served VERY COLD!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 7:10PM
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scaldude(Sunset Z23 SouthOC)

Keep in mind that "Zinfandel" and "White Zinfandel" are not the same wine. It is the same varietal (grape), but the "white" is created by removing the skin of the grapes during the winemaking process!!!

Zinfandel is an awesome red wine that pairs well with spicy foods: Pizza, Lasagna and other heavy pastas, BBQ,...

You should consider giving it a try when you're ready to sit at the "grown-up's table". LOL

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 7:45PM
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What Scaldude said.

Zinfandel is a red grape that was probably brought to California by Italian immigrants. It's been traced to Croatia thru DNA and in southern Italy they have a grape called Primitivo, which the EU has now said can be labeled zinfandel. I think Rabbit Ridge is calling one of their zins primitivo now as well - mostly for the marketing. Zin ripens very unevenly so to get full ripeness in all of the berries, some of the earlier ripening ones get almost over ripe. As a result, the wine tends to have a pretty high alcohol content.

It was always considered a rustic peasant wine but there was a lot of it planted out in CA. (I guess peasants liked the hi alcohol?) Sometime in the 1970s some people decided to make a rose out of it. This was around the time that Lancers was a big seller. The US wine industry was pretty much only a handful of wineries and most of what was produced aside from those was pretty undrinkable - Gallo Hearty Burgundy, Almaden, etc.

And rose was totally unfashionable. It's only gotten trendy in the past 6 years or so.

Anyhow, the people who decided to make a rose out of it wanted a way to make it seem different, so they decided to call it "blush". They didn't ferment it completely dry but left a little bit of residual sugar in the wine so the average American, who was pretty unfamiliar with wine at the time but was willing to drink sweet cocktails and sodas, might adopt it.

They were of course smashingly successful and made hundreds of millions of dollars and generated many competitors. It was so successful that many people now think zinfandel is always pink. And the people who started the craze, owners of Sutter Home, are now making really nice zins and other wines.

There were two good parts to this tale. First, the white zins got people drinking wine. Second and more important, the fact that there was so much demand kept the vineyards from being uprooted and today we have many zinfandel vineyards with wonderful old and even ancient vines that are producing outstanding wine. So anyone who ever knocks white zin should pause to reflect on the fact that it saved so many vineyards that would otherwise have been replanted.

Zin is tricky though, and there are many styles. If you drink something by Turley for example, you can pay over $100 and get a wine that is maybe 16% alcohol. It will be super fruity and will seem sweet even tho it is actually dry. And on a hot day with barbeque, I really don't like it. There are other, less over the top styles, that take very well to slight chilling. Very grapey, almost like pinot noir. Brown Estate for example.

And then there are some that age beautifully. Most zin is consumed young, but you can find some older bottles with maybe 20 - 30 or more years on them, that sometimes taste like great mature cabs. Ridge Geyserville for example, ages nicely.

As far as what is comparable, not too sweet or too dry, that's a real personal issue. You might try a young pinot noir from the central coast area. Alternatively, you can try an inexpensive Nero d'Avola from southern Italy, or a grenache or what they term GSM from Australia, or even Spain or France. Grenache is a very fruity friendly grape.

Or a Beaujolais. That had a similar story to zinfandel - George Dubouef was successful in making young beaujolais become a fashionable item, but it destroyed the reputation of the area. The good side is that as a result, it is underappreciated and there are some excellent wines. Just look for what's called "cru" beaujolais. Something from the Fleurie area, for example, or Julienas. Dubouf himself makes wines from these areas and those are probably $10 most places and actually good values. When young, these wines are made in a way that makes them very friendly but they're also interesting in that if you keep them for five or six years, they start to resemble older Burgundies, which are more money and need much more time to mature.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 1:55PM
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wild_rose_of_texas(z8b TX)

This is a good thread, and I am taking notes. My husband seems to like Sutter Home's White Zinfandel best of what he has tried to date. I like some of the Viognier being produced here in Texas by McPherson... excellent young wine!

I'll be looking for that Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel that was mentioned above. Also the 5 or 6 year old cru Beaujolais. Another idea scribbled in my purse notepad!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 7:14PM
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Beaujolais has 10 "cru" areas. Otherwise the wine is simply Beaujolais or Beaujolais-villages. On November 15, they release the young stuff. Too much garbage out there these days tho. So look for a cru.

On the lable somewhere will it will have the name of a cru - Fleurie, Chas, Chirobles, Julianas, Moulin à Vent, Morgon, Régnié, Cote de Brouilly, Brouilly, or St Amour.

So it would say something like Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie Poncie by Pierre & Marie Chermette

The domaine is the winery, Fleurie is the area, Poncie is the vineyard and the Chermettes are the winemakers and that particular wine is outstanding and less than $20 and will age for many years if you wish, although it's good to drink immediately. George Dubouef is the main player in Beaujolais and has done most for getting it the worldwide recognition, and even though his wines are widely available, don't turn up your nose at them - they are some of the best values on the market. He has wine from each of the crus and that's a great place to start.

Ridge makes more than Geyeserville, their Lytton Springs is another one to look for and they have many more if you can hunt them down. They're getting expensive, somewhere between 20 and 30 bucks these days.

Sobon makes a zin that's under $10 and surprisingly good. Not great, but a really solid value. Seghesio, Ravenswood, and Rosenblum are widely available and they make a number of different zins from different vineyards. Big wines though, and very different from the Beaujolais which is light bodied and only about 12 - 13% alcohol. Those zins are big, extracted, ripe, and have alcohol levels up to 15% or more.

Interestingly, those are probably the two extremes of winemaking but both zin and Beaujolais are wines that novices can usually appreciate. They tend not to be too tannic and they retain nice fruit flavors. Zin and gamay are both considered peasant grapes, not noble grapes like cabernet sauvignon, but I happen to love both. Between those extremes are thousands of wines. Try both, calibrate your palate, and then work in that direction.

Like those zins are many Australian wines from the Barossa Valley.

Like the Beaujolais are some pinot noirs (but be careful because there is so much garbage out under that label these days), or some lighter-bodied wines from Austria or north Italy - maybe barbera, lagrein, unclassified nebbiolo, etc. Barbera is being made in a bigger style these days, so maybe that's not a great suggestion, but it can be such a delicious wine - inexpensive and great with almost any food. FWIW, I define inexpensive as under $20, cheap as under $15.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 5:51PM
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wild_rose_of_texas(z8b TX)

Thanks, Roses! I appreciate your information! You've obviously acquired a lot of data through your own experiences, and what you say is mirrored in a couple of wine books I have recently read.

"Wine for Dummies" was an excellent starting point for me, a complete novice. Great book that I recommend for anyone wanting to learn enough to get started, and not look like a novice when faced with a complicated wine list in a nicer restaurant.

I still do not enjoy wine that often, and my palate is definitely unsophisticated (!), but I am learning to taste some differences, which make the difference between wanting to pour out the glass, VS buying a bottle or three for future consumption!

I am unsophisicated enough to still laugh at the idea of a grape being "for peasants". I bet there are a few wine snobs that could learn a thing or two from peasants! Ah, well, such is life!!! (Raising a glass, figuratively,and savoring the fruit of the vine!)


    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 5:04PM
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coffeehaus(7a Central VA)

Well, I think that if you like white zin, it's time for you to try a nice Sauvignon Blanc (Chenin blanc). It would provide a bridge from the white zin that you are used to drinking, to more dry/complex and crisp wines. Unoaked, it does not have that overwhelmingly woody taste that so many Chards seem to have. My favorite SBs are highlighted by grapefruit...citrusy fruity, buy not necessarily sweet. For about $10, try Nobilo SB (New Zealand). Just about any New Zealand SB from Marlborough is good to great! Sauvignon blanc goes well with seafood and chicken, but it's delicious on its own, as well. I also like Babich, Kim Crawford, and Bancroft Reserve. Try Murphy-Goode for a California SB.
Alternatively, a Riesling might appeal to you. For a great value, try the Banrock Station Riesling (Australia) that is available in most grocery stores...under $5/bottle. Fruity and easy to drink!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 8:19PM
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Those are good suggestions coffeehaus. I would note however, that chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc are not related, at least insofar as I know.

Sauvignon blanc is probably more widely known. It's grown in the Loire Valley which is considered its "home", as well as other places in France, but it is also grown in Spain, Italy, the US, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, and probably a number of other places. It can make very nice wines in many places. In France, it is generally not treated with much wood. In CA, sometimes they keep it in barrels and it becomes a different wine entirely. It is perhaps the signature wine of New Zealand, which produces a lot of good quality, fairly priced, sauvignon blanc. Depending on the area it comes from and it's ripeness, it can smell exactly like cat pee, which is a very common description and some people love it, or like grass, or like citrus fruits.

Chenin blanc is probably not as widely planted. It's also a main white grape in the Loire where it can make exquisite sweet wines. It's the signature white wine from South Africa, where they call it Steen. It's a wierd grape - I think it's best in the sweet version and only rarely find it inspiring as a dry wine. On the North Fork of Long Island there is one producer however, who is making good chenin blanc.

Most white zin has a little sugar left in it after fermentation. Most of these wines don't. The model for chardonnay in the US was to have a touch of residual sugar and oak aging, which gave a slight vanilla flavor and helped the wine taste more "fat" in the mouth. But that's not all there is to chardonnay and I would encourage you to find some from other parts of the world, or to select carefully from CA. Personally, I'm not a snob and don't have a problem with oaky chardonnay, but then again, I rarely drink it anyway so it's always kind of something different for me. But the palate feel will be very different from the SB that coffeehaus suggested.

And if you want to try a riesling, good luck. It's the greatest white grape IMO. You can find them ranging from bone dry to very sweet and good ones are produced in almost every country that I can think of. They almost never have any oak treatment, so be prepared.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 7:15PM
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coffeehaus(7a Central VA)

Rosesinny...oops! Thanks for the correction...my mistake. And I should have noted "Brancott", not "Bancroft".
Now all this thinking about wine has made me thirsty. Off to slurp some Nobilo.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 8:13PM
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wild_rose_of_texas(z8b TX)

Who is the producer of good Chenin Blanc on the North Fork of Long Island?

My favorite author, Bertrice Small, resides there, and I have to find some of her local wine to enjoy wiht her next book!


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 4:43PM
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Paumanok, owned by Charles Massoud. More people should grow that grape out there. Tell him hi from Greg.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 2:40PM
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