Norton Safeweb

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Problem with Zinfandel

If ever there was a California wine made in a multitude of styles it is Zinfandel. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

Some Zinfandel is pink and some people still don't know there is a red Zin. But this isn't really the real issue with Zinfandel.

Even those that realize Zinfandel is actually a robust red wine might think they all taste like Frei Brothers (a Gallo brand) or Seven Deadly Zins (from Lodi). Not that there is anything wrong with either, but a whole world of Zinfandel is missing here like Ridge Lytton Springs or Storybook Mountain, to name a couple top producers. Or just anything from Dry Creek Valley. Others who may actually drink a fair amount of wine or even get to go tasting in California believe Zinfandel is all about bright red fruit and the 15% alcohol that goes with it. But all this isn't really the problem with Zin either.

Locally, at least, professional judges can't rate Zinfandel worth a damn. Okay, that's a broad statement and unfair maybe, but this is the problem with Zin. I attend the Sonoma Count Fair every year where there are hundreds of local wines to try over a three-day weekend (hey, somebody has gotta do it). The group of wines I least agree with on the medals awards is Zinfandel. The judges seem to go for those soft fruit-bombs and I don't. Doesn't make one of us right and the other wrong, it just means they have a certain style they prefer. The problem is this isn't the only style of Zin out there. Those fruit bomb wines please the palate on that first sip or two and this is how wines are judged. It's too bad because many people buy based on awards.

If you've read this blog before you've heard complaints about high alcohol wines, especially Zinfandel. To get a view from the other side, and from an area that just happens to be known for higher alcohol wines, see this article on making assumptions from the alcohol number on the label.