Twist my arm and make me pick a favorite varietal of wine and I'd probably say Zinfandel. It pairs well with all sorts of food, making it a versatile dinner companion. Zinfandel is also just as comfortable kicking off the festivities as a pre-dinner drink or as a post-dinner nightcap.
The challenge Sally and I face is finding a reasonably priced Zinfandel that still pleases our palate. Most of our go-to Zins are in the $25 - $35 range, which is fine for a weekend night out or sharing with friends, but not exactly an "open anytime" price point for us. We've also spoiled our palates with the likes of Robert Biale Black Chicken, Ridge Ponzo Vineyard, Cuvaison Bald Mountain Vineyard, and Caymus (perhaps the best Zinfandel we've had in 2012).
We may have finally discovered an outstanding Zinfandel that sells for under $20, a 2010 Klinker Brick Winery Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California. It was selling for $13.95 at San Diego Wine Company, and we trust their judgment, so we picked up a bottle to try. Wow - it was terrific!
Zinfandel can range from jammy to peppery, and this one was definitely on the jammy end of the spectrum. The nose smelled like dark berries and it tasted like blackberry with perhaps a hint of blueberry that gave way to a long finish with hint of pepper. There was a mild vinegar taste at the end which disappeared with food. We paired it with roasted chicken, butternut squash, and a spinach salad topped with blueberries and blue cheese.