I had dinner last week with a friend when we were both serendipitously in Tampa at the same time on business. A colleague of hers joined us at a local steakhouse called Charley's. I've been feeling guilty ever since on account of what happened there.
You see, I set their Zinfandel bar too high.
Neither one of my dinner companions had ever tried Zinfandel. Californians take this wonderful grape for granted because there are so many incredible examples that come from our state. It's different outside of California where Zinfandel is rare and unknown, or worse, confused with White Zinfandel. The horror.
If I felt like Zinfandel, I should have introduced it to them with a nice Seven Deadly Zins or something else from Lodi. Perhaps an Artezin if I wanted to go a little more upscale. Maybe even a Ridge Ponzo Vineyard, which is one of my favorites. But you get a good wine list in front of me and I have a tendency to get carried away.
Charley's has one of those encyclopedic wine lists. It had two full pages devoted to Napa Valley Cabs for crying out loud. And it also had a few special bottles that were reasonably priced for what they were. One of those bottles was on something Sally and I call our automatic list. This is a small list of wines we automatically get it if we have the good fortune of seeing it on a wine list, which doesn't happen often.
I couldn't help myself.
Thanks to me, my friend and her colleague got their first taste of Zinfandel from a bottle of 2010 Robert Biale Black Chicken. It was every bit as good as it should be, but I'm afraid my two companions won't fully appreciate the fact that not all Zin comes from this same planet. They'll certainly try another Zin sometime soon, probably something popular from their local wine shop, and it will be good. It just won't be Black Chicken.
Am I sorry for what I did? Yes. But truthfully, I'd do it again. Black Chicken is so damn good.