Food & Drink

Russ Winton: Wine List

Zinfandel Fan? Check Out ZAP

I like zinfandel wine, especially California Zinfandel. I wouldn’t say I was a zinphomaniac or anything like that, but when I fire up the barbie, it’s my go-to red. It pairs well with ribs, chicken, lamb, a juicy rib-eye and marinara sauced pasta. Zin’s typical flavors and aromas are of blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry and cherry, laced with black pepper, cloves, anise and herbs. It’s grown in all of California’s appellations and expresses the essence of each region. It can be made in a blush style or picked early to make a light, spicy berry-flavored red or harvested later to produce a full-bodied rich wine. Zinfandel, in my opinion, is the best value red wine in the marketplace. Your favorite zin will be based on where it’s grown, the altitude, the clone used, the age of the vines, the sugar at harvest, weather conditions, vineyard maintenance, the yeast and fermentation process, oak barrels used and the winemakers’ whims. There are excellent zinfandels sale priced under $15 (see below) and many 90-plus pointers in the $20 range. What red wines are that complex, at that price? Such a deal.

Russ Winton: Wine List

A taste of Lodi

The Navigator (for some readers, I am referring to my partner, not an SUV) said she was feeling a bit “cabin bound” and needed an outing. I suggested a wine walk in downtown Lodi. She nodded approval and off we went. Lodi now has about 15 tasting rooms, three breweries and more than a dozen restaurants, all within four city blocks. It is more tasting than walking. Here are a few basic suggestions for a rehab day in Lodi.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Liberating the redheaded maiden

The redheaded maiden is back. Yes, back to the proper supermarket shelf. She’s now among friends with similar taste, style and price. This is where she started 13 years ago. Her development, which many said was too rushed, caused her to be exiled to those bottom shelves of the wine wall. And there she sat, a damsel in distress. For a long time. And then came the Wine Hooligans.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Three serious sipping events

There are plenty of wine events in May to consider. Here are three, and if I could, I would go to all of them. I’ve written about these festivals before, so I’ll cut to the quick and give just a brief summary of each.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Wente Vineyards celebrates

Wente Vineyards, the country’s oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery is celebrating its 135th anniversary this year. The Livermore winery is well known for industry-wide contributions to innovation, sustainability and hospitality. Carolyn Wente, fourth generation winegrower and CEO stated “while honoring the rich history of the 100 percent estate-grown vineyards we also are celebrating the fifth generation who are leading Wente Vineyards into the future.”

Russ Winton: Wine List

Gold medal bargains

Wine is not complicated. All you have to do is find a wine that you like, at a price you can afford and drink it. That’s it. However, if you want to learn more about wine, you need to taste more and that can get pretty expensive. Here’s a suggestion, go to and click on the 2018 San Francisco Wine Competition medal winners.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Keep it simple

In 2007, I wrote five mission statements to remind me to always keep this column consumer friendly. In summarizing a recent public wine presentation, I could only remember four (age?). I was so embarrassed. I told the Navigator that will never happen again. So now, I am down to three. Here they are:

Krispy Kreme is celebrating its birthday with a dozen doughnuts for $1

Krispy Kreme is celebrating its birthday with a dozen glazed doughnuts for $1 after purchasing a dozen doughnuts at regular price.