I have been writing an annual zinfandel column for about as long as I have been writing about wine. I have always thought that zinfandel should be 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.
But I have been disappointed in the direction that zinfandel has taken over the past couple of years, and had mostly written zinfandel off. So it was with suprise and pleasure that I found the Ravenswood Sonoma County (about $15, and available at World Market, Tom Thumb, Kroger and Albertson’s).
Joel Peterson, who runs the winery today for Constellation Brands, started Ravenswood as a zinfandel house more than 30 years ago. And he still remembers how to do it in the classic style – moderate alcohol with jammy, berry fruit. Is it old-fashioned in this day of high alcohol, over-ripe zinfandels, many of which taste more like port than table wine? You bet, and that’s a good thing. Serve this zingy red wine (not to be confused with sweetish white zinfandels or Ravenswood’s basic $10 wine) with barbecue – brisket, sausage and all of the trimmings.