January 26, 2005

Ten good reasons to Zin

Today is the first day of an annual four-day Zinfandel bacchanalia in San Francisco, put on by Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (more commonly known as ZAP). The entire week, in fact, has been declared Zinfandel Grape Appreciation Week by the city of San Francisco. With 275 wineries in town to show their wines, and tastings, dinners, talks and auctions, the streets will be running red, Zinfandel red, with streaks of deep purple and maybe a few flashes of pink from smashed bottles of white Zinfandel.

There’s no other grape on the planet that gets feted so grandly. What is it about Zinfandel that makes it so well suited to partying? There are many possibilities, all starting with its juicy, spicy, lush-bordering-on-louche flavors, but here are Ten Reasons Zinfandel Rocks:

10. What other grape has an official fan club? (www.zinfandel.org; 530-274-4900)

9. Its nickname, Zin, rhymes with Sin.

8. Fittingly, Zin can grow fat and juicy in places other grapes consider Hell.

7. It’s a local hero: Though the variety originated in Europe, no place does it better than California.

6. It’s got mystery: the story of how it came to the States took a century to unravel, and is worthy of a paperback mystery in itself, complete with liars, backstabbers, and man-eating crocodiles (see Charles Sullivan’s Zinfandel: The History of a Grape and Its Wine for the low-down) and yet we still don’t know how it got its name.

5. From sweetly pink to potently black, there’s a Zin for everyone.

4. It’s the only grape in the world that gets a party of its own.

4a. And that party is four days long.

3. It’s down-home enough to go with jambalaya, fancy enough to match pheasant pate, rich and ripe enough to pair with chocolate cake, and versatile enough to handle Hawaiian Portuguese Sausages in Chocolate Sauce (I’m not making these up: all these pairings will be offered this Thursday night as part of the ZAP festivities)

2. It’s as easy to say as it is to find…

1. And it’s much easier to find a good Zinfandel than a bad one.

To find out how good Zinfandel gets, try some from any of these producers:

Bella
Dashe
Joel Gott
Kenwood
Murphy-Goode
Ridge
Rocking Horse
Rosenblum
Sobon
Trentadue

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