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WINE

Sizzling Summer Selections
updated: Jul 30, 2011, 11:06 AM

By Eric Garnier

As I was closing last month's article about the "Wonderful Wines of Summer", I left you hanging with one of my favorite grape varietals , Zinfandel. This grape gets it's roots from Italy and Croatia, where the grape is called "primitivo and crljenak kastelanski". In California, 10% of all vineyards are planted with Zinfandel. This grape produces a robust red wine and often contains alcohol levels above 15% which is higher than other traditional red wines. I like to refer a good Zin as "jammy".

The taste of the wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes at harvest. Red berry fruits like raspberry notes from wines in cooler areas and blackberry , anise and pepper notes are more common in wines harvested in warmer climates. The age of the vines also is important with zinfandel with some of the vineyards having been planted over 100 years ago!

Zinfandel was originally planted in Napa Valley, but also has a large presence in Amador, Sonoma, Lodi, San Luis Obispo, and Mendocino county.

Zins go great with BBQ's, which is why I call this a summer wine. The spices in the sauces tend to interact great with the fruit forward characteristic of this wine. I also like Zins with Mexican or Thai food. For after dinner, try a Late Harvest Zinfandel, a fortified wine that many Zin producers make.

Many of the wineries on the Ventura Wine Trail produce Zins as part of their wine portfolio, so next time you are visiting one of the wineries on the trail, make sure to try this varietal, then bring some home for the BBQ

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