Zinfandel might not be the most unusual choice to pair with grilled foods, but it’s a match that always seems to work. Especially when you have a zinfandel as well crafted as Ridge Vineyards‘ Paso Robles 2008.
Ridge, one of the most renowned wineries in California, has been making outstanding wines since the 1960s. But what distinguishes Ridge, in my view, is the way winemakers Paul Draper, Eric Baugher and John Olney approach wine-making. Dedicated to sustainable, organic farming, these winemakers take extreme care in every step of the wine-making process. According to their website, they “find the most intense and flavorful grapes, guide the natural process and draw all the fruit’s richness into the wine.”
The results are wines that are unique, vibrant, intensely flavorful and complex.
Recently I became a member of Ridge Vineyards’ Z List. Twice a year I’ll be receiving a shipment of their best-selling zinfandels. My first box arrived a few days after I’d signed up. Inside, zinfandels made from three different vineyards: Paso Robles, Geyserville and East Bench.
Although I adored each of the wines equally, the Paso Robles was my first choice to serve with the grilled vegetable brochettes with pimentón marinade.
Its beautiful deep garnet color first caught my eye, enticing me to take a sniff. My nostrils were instantly filled with ripe, deep aromas of cherry, boysenberries, plums and a pleasing hint of herb, which I couldn’t identify.
After swirling the wine and sinking my nose in the glass for a little while, I was ready for more. Upon first sip, what I’d picked up on the nose was now fully delivered. Dark berries and jammy red fruits soaked my taste buds, and the herbal note finally revealed itself: crushed fennel! But the more I sipped the wine, the more I could taste: a bit of spice and even a hint of unsweetened cocoa were now noticeable.
Now that my taste buds had become accustomed to the rich flavors, I focused on the texture. This Paso Robles Zinfandel was round and full with a lively acidity — simply delightful.
When I finally got around to take a mouthful of the grilled vegetable brochettes, everything suddenly came together. The wine highlighted the grilled flavors and the smokiness of the food, while the food toned down the wine’s acidity. The flavors, equally powerful in both the wine and the food, made for a thrilling experience.
So I forgot about jotting down my wine notes and for the rest of the meal, Marc (my husband) and I took our time sipping, eating, relishing.
Ridge Vineyards, California zinfandel, Paso Robles, Benito Dusi Ranch 2008. $30
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.