30 Second Wine Advisor: What color is your Zin?
Today's Sponsor
 California Wine Club
A Sinfully Delicious Napa Valley double red!

In This Issue
 What color is your Zin? If you answered "white," you're not alone ... but you might find recalibration rewarding.
 Rabbit Ridge 2002 Paso Robles Westside Zinfandel ($17.99) Big, bold and brash, there's nothing wimpy - and nothing "white" - about this robust Zinfandel.
 California Wine Club A Sinfully Delicious Napa Valley double red!
 Wine Lovers' Voting Booth What do you keep in your wine cellar (besides wine)?
 This week on WineLoversPage.com Dr. Buckner reports on another 100 new wine releases, and our online forum discusses the possibility of PET plastic bottles for wine.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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What color is your Zin?

If you answered "white" to this trick question, you're probably not a wine "geek," but you're certainly not alone: White Zinfandel is the third-largest-selling varietal wine in U.S. food stores, according to a fact sheet that came in today from the California Wine Institute.

White Zin, of course, is not a grape variety but a style of wine - most often pink, not white - that's made by crushing red Zinfandel grapes but removing the skins before they've had time to impart more than an embarrassed blushing color to the wine.

White Zin trails only Chardonnay and Merlot in the supermarket sweepstakes, although the chances are that it ranks much farther back in the pack at the fine-wine shops where more serious wine enthusiasts congregate. Its low-end popularity certainly makes it a money wine for the industry, though, and it's no coincidence that many restaurateurs feel compelled to spell out that the Zinfandel on the wine list is red.

In view of the popularity of White Zin and other, similar "blush" wines, are wine lovers who disdain this pink, low-acid and sweetish style merely being snobs? Well, not exactly. With apologies to anyone in the audience who enjoys a glass of "blush" - and there are millions of fans, particularly among those who haven't acquired a taste for the dry, acidic and sometimes astringent style of traditional table wines - the problem isn't entirely with the style. It's certainly possible to make a quality pink wine from white grapes, a crisp table wine with clean, true fruit flavor and snappy, food-friendly structure. It's done all the time in Provence and spottily elsewhere around the world, and such wines don't even have to be bone-dry.

In practice, though, with blush wine as with so many other consumer products, the marketplace - particularly industrial producers - seems to see no reason to make a smart version when a dumbed-down one will sell.

That's today's story, and I'm sticking to it. If I want a pink wine, I'll drink a Provence rosé or a dry rosé of similar quality and style from California, Australia, Italy or Spain. And if I want Zinfandel, I'm drinking the real thing. Like today's featured wine, for instance, from my old pal and recent Rhone Valley traveling companion, Erich Russell of Rabbit Ridge ...

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on today's topic (or any other wine-related subject), you'll find a round-table online discussion in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

Rabbit Ridge Rabbit Ridge 2002 Paso Robles Westside Zinfandel ($17.99)

This is a clear, dark ruby wine with a reddish-violet edge. A blackberry cordial aroma is characteristic of high-alcohol Zin, with whiffs of herbs and a hint of green peppercorn to add nuance on the nose and palate. It's big and warm, mouth-filling and jammy, but it admirably carries its high-octane 14.8% alcohol on a sturdy structure of ripe mixed-berry fruit and snappy acidity. (Sept. 25, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Next to a char-grilled rare steak, it's hard to imagine a better match with a lusty Zin than chili ... I went with a Midwestern-style recipe but fired it up with plenty of Tex-Mex spice. (See this coming Thursday's 30 Second Wine Advisor FoodLetter for the recipe.)

VALUE: This price is more than fair for a quality Zin in today's marketplace, but you may be able to find it for less, as the winery suggested retail is a couple of bucks below what I paid locally.

WHEN TO DRINK: I'm of the school that prefers to drink Zin relatively young while it's fruity and fresh, but you don't need to worry about losing this powerhouse if you hold it for a year or two.

The Rabbit Ridge Website features the similar 2003 vintage at this link:

Rabbit Ridge offers direct sales to selected U.S. states on its Ordering Information page. To find vendors and compare prices for Rabbit Ridge Zinfandel, check the databases on Wine-Searcher.com:

California Wine Club
California Wine Club:
A Sinfully Delicious Napa Valley double red!

A Sinfully Delicious Napa Valley double red is this month's selection at the California Wine Club. Cuvaison's 2001 Pinot Noir has garnered several high ratings. 89 points, Wine Enthusiast (July 2003): "... light, silky, easy tannins and smoky flavors of cherry, raspberry, tangerine peel and rose hip tea..."

It is paired with Seven Sinners 2002 Incahoots Syrah. "Wine of the Week," St. Petersburg Times (April, 2005) : "... remarkably smooth, a bowl of black cherries you can drink... peppery hints of earth, leather and spice..."

Both just $32.95 plus shipping. Call California Wine Club, 1-800-777-4443, or visit

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: What do you keep in your wine cellar?

Here's an offbeat question: Are wine cellars only for wine? We thought it would be fun to find out just what strange items our readers do stash (along with wine) in the cellar or wine rack, as the Wine Lovers' Voting Booth asks, "What do you keep in your wine cellar (besides wine)?"

To cast your ballot, click to the Voting Booth,
Once you have voted, the software will immediately add your entry to the list. You can use this link to check the current totals:

Then, if you'd like to talk more about your preference (and I hope you will), join in a discussion on this topic in the Wine Lovers' Discussion Group:

This week on WineLoversPage.com

Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:

Bucko's Wine Reports: Autumn 2005 releases
September is a transition month for many wine lovers, as the season invites a shift from white wine consumption to more reds and Port. New releases columnist Randy "Bucko" Buckner, inviting readers to pull up a virtual chair as he presents another 100 new and current wine releases for your inspection.

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Plastic bottles
Are plastic bottles the natural follow-up to screwcaps and plastic corks? Modern but perhaps declassé, sturdy PET plastic bottles for inexpensive wine are turning up on commercial airlines Down Under, in supermarkets in the UK and France, and at sports stadiums in the U.S. Do you want to see

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 2003 Valpolicella (Sept. 23, 2005)

 Thoughts on vintage (Sept. 21, 2005)

 Offbeat grapes and wines - Ruché (Sept. 19, 2005)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: "Chinese" without a cookbook (Sept. 22, 2005)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

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 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
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For all past editions, click here

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Monday, Sept. 26, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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