Red zinfandels to be featured at next week's wine tasting

By Staff
Feb. 20, 2002
About five years ago, America discovered red zinfandels.
They had been on the market long before that, of course, but as wine lovers turned from French Bordeaux and some California cabernet sauvignons because of their rapidly inflating prices, red zinfandels became the wine of choice for those who liked big, full-flavored, almost berry-like wines at very reasonable prices.
Today, zinfandel plantings are outstripping most other California grapes. Sales are increasing month-in and month-out. And many of the best wines on today's market in the under $20 category are the red zinfandels.
We've had only one red zinfandel tasting in the nearly 18 months of our organized tastings. It's time for another because these wines have become better and better. The Karly Winery's Warrior Fires is one of the leaders in the Meridian market today and justifiably so. It is a massive wine, packed with flavor and spicy overtones that have made it a popular choice from package stores to several restaurants in our city.
And while I suppose I should be impeccably neutral, I must confess that today's red zinfandel's are my personal wine of choice with red meat, cheese or just sipping a glass after work.
Our red zinfandel tasting will be Wednesday. Note it has been moved up a day, from the last Thursday of this month to the last Wednesday. The Meridian Little Theatre's production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" opens Thursday and many of those who regularly attend the wine tastings are also members of the Little Theatre. This way they won't have to make a choice. They can do both. The start time will be the usual 6:30 p.m. at Northwood Country Club.
We will taste six wines. We will do a vertical tasting of the four great Karly wines on today's market, their Pokerville, Buck's 10 Point, Warrior Fires and their newest, Sadie Upton. The Sadie Upton wine is made from grapes grown on a tiny 2-acre plot in California that yields only 500 cases per year. We have been fortunate enough to obtain a case and it will be the feature wine of the evening.
There will be two other zinfandels as well for a total of six. The two not produced by Karly carry a rating of 90 for one and 91 for the other so we will be comparing the best against the best. There will also be a surprise white wine of welcome at the door which in actuality, therefore, makes a total of seven. The price remains at the usual $25.
For those of you unfamiliar with this grape, do not think it is anything like the popular white zinfandels. The white zinfandels are sweet wines with absolutely no resemblance to the big reds. Think of the red zinfandel as something akin to the best and biggest cabernet sauvignon you have ever tasted. In the main, they have a dark color and are very rich with a peppery-spicey intensity. The flavor is the classic berry-fruit, sometimes approaching a cherry-like flavor, depending how the winemaker chose to blend them. In any tasting against the cabernets or the merlots, even the shiraz from Australia, the red zinfandels will likely be the wine of choice.
To give you a further idea of the ever growing popularity of red zinfandels, the state warehouse now lists 42 such wines on their inventory and they wouldn't be there if there wasn't demand.
Among the names of well known producers of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and other red wines who have now branched out into including red zinfandels: you will find DeLoach, Dry Creek, Rabbit Ridge, Robert Mondavi, Gundlach Bundschu and Alexander Valley. There are more of course, but not all of the others are available in our state.
You will need to make reservation for this tasting. Call 482-0930 or write your check to Wines Unlimited and send it to Post Office Box 5223 Meridian, MS 39302. The reservation is important.
A heads-up about the March tasting, which is scheduled for March 28. It will feature an assortment of little-known cheese from France along with wines capable of standing up to or enhancing it. This will be a true wine and cheese tasting. Mark it on your calender as a must-not-miss evening.
Mark this one as well. If you are not familiar with the red zinfandels, we promise you an evening of tasting the best of the best will convince you these are wines you will serve in the future to your friends or simply enjoy for yourself.