I confess. I'm in love with my Weber kettle barbecue. My wife is aware of this, and yet, encourages me to meet with my grill-friend at least three and sometimes four times a week.
Even though the blue enamel has faded and ash wipers corroded, this spindly three-legged kettle still has what it takes.
The fire still burns.
Everything I lay on her, the old grill delivers. She is a grate and dear friend.
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Fortunately, grilling is one of the best things to happen to red wine.
The sweet charred smoky flavors and the crisp texture of grilled foods match perfectly with red wines.
My favorite wines for grilling are zinfandel, syrah and petite sirah.
Zinfandel's fruit-forward berry flavors work well with grilled vegetables, ribs, chicken, turkey, even hot dogs and hamburgers.
Syrah, because of its black pepper earthy flavors, marries well with grilled lamb or smoked duck.
These are big, bold, rustic, chewable, brambly, teeth-staining wines.
As the Ravenswood Winery motto states, "NO WIMPY WINES."
If I had to choose one wine for the grill it would be America's wine, zinfandel.
For the record it really isn't our wine. DNA tests have revealed that it's the same grape as the primitivo grown in Italy, with its origin in Croatia. But the United States is the only country to cultivate it and label it zinfandel, so we claim it as our own.
I decided that Memorial Day Weekend would be a great date for a zin tasting. We paired the wine with smoky pulled pork sandwiches with a spicy Asian sauce and a sweet Dr. Pepper-based barbecue sauce.
Eight zins were bagged and tagged to insure that labels would not influence voting. We tasted in two flights of four wines each.
The wines are readily available in local markets, good value to price and all under $15, the criteria for the "What's on our table" section of this column.
The wine that received the highest score was the Quivira Dry Creek Valley 2006 (see below).
The 2004 Mandolin Lodi Old Vine Zin was the oldest wine and tasters felt that it had lost its fruit punch. And though it was still drinkable, it was not in the same class as the remaining six which all scored within a few points of each other.
Most of these were Old Vine Zins from the Lodi region, which produces some great zinfandels.
Ravenswood had two entries, an Old Vine Lodi and an Old Vine Sonoma County. Both 2006 wines were excellent.
7 Deadly Zins 2007 and Windmill Old Vine Lodi 2006 were big ripe fruit-forward wines that could put the finishing touches on any barbecue.
The Deep Purple 2006 Old Vine Lodi was just that -- deep, deep purple -- and has a really cool label that resembles a rock concert poster from the '60s.
Finally, the Old Moon 2007, a Trader Joe's exclusive, was the least expensive for just $4.95 and was a medal winner in the S.F. Chronicle Tasting. Cheers!
What's on our table
2006 Quivira Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. This wine has rich, ripe, brambly fruit with plum and black pepper aromas and a long jammy finish. Delicious!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org