Happy July! Did you know July is National Grilling Month? Yup, and we are leading right up to Fourth of July weekend where there is lots of grilling going on. One of my favorite wines to pair with the barbecue is Zinfandel. It’s what I reach for and here is why.
Zinfandel will go with many items you grill. It’s classic peppery aromas and flavors pair well with characteristics of most barbecue sauces, as do the ripe fruit flavors. It complements the food rather than overpower it.
I am going to break Zinfandel down into three types to look for. Young Zinfandel, Medium-Bodied Zinfandel and Full-Bodied Zinfandel.
Your Young Zinfandel will be light-bodied, fresh and fruity. You might want to drink this if you’re having a seafood cioppino.
A medium-bodied Zinfandel will offer increased fruity flavors and more tannin and complexity due to aging. Think grilled sausages, turkey, beef or veggie burgers, lamb chops and pork.
The full-bodied Zinfandel, think old vines. They have a great concentration of fruit flavors, lots of tannin and complexity. I would uncork one with the butterflied leg of lamb, lamb chops, grilled or smoked ribs, pork, grilled or smoked brisket. If you are using a red-based barbecue sauce, this or the medium-bodied Zinfandel would be a good choice.

Now that I have your mouth watering, here are four Zinfandels to reach for.

Berryessa Gap 2017 Zinfandel SRP $22 – The grapes come from The Coble Ranch, Winters in Yolo Country, CA and is made with 100% Zinfandel. The alcohol content clocks in 14.8%. The wine aged was aged for 14 months in neutral French oak barrels. Dark cherry, cigar, earth and plum aromas, the palate is very well balanced. You’ll get some nice plum, cherry with nice spice of clove that lingers on the finish. “Real nice for sure” says Jenn. Paired very well with Jenn’s Turkey Burgers. Berryessa Gap suggests a New Orleans-Style Barbecued Shrimp with Creole Cream Cheese Grits to pair with their wine.

Robert Biale Vineyards 2018 Old Craft Vineyard, St. Helena Appellation Zinfandel SRP $55 – This Zinfandel clocked in at 14.6% alcohol. The fruit was aged for 11 months in Burgundian oak of which 24% was new oak. The Zinfandel comes from legendary plants that date back to the 1890s. The nose was a bit jammy with black and red fruit. The palate juicy fruit, plum, toasty spices, soft tannins. Nice black cherry finish with a hint of spice. It paired very well with our BBQ ribs. They suggest “The Sash Burger” – The Fried-Onion Burger by George Motz.

Armida 2017 Maple Vineyards Zinfandel SRP $44– This legendary vineyard’s vines date back to 1910. It is 92% Zinfandel with 8% Petite Sirah blended in. The alcohol clocks in at 14.9%. Aged in a combination of American, French and Eastern European oak barrels with some of the wine being fermented in open-top tanks, while other in closed-top tanks. Lots of spice on the nose with a palate full of plum and black cherry. Very elegant mouthfeel with those silky tannins. The finish is long and spicy. Paired well with BBQ ribs and mac and cheese. They suggest a BBQ Porterhouse Steak.

Pedroncelli 2017 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel SRP $26– The legendary Bushnell Vineyard has been in the Pedroncelli family since 1943 when John Pedroncelli Sr. Purchased it. The vineyard was sold to his son-in-law Al Pedroni in the 1950’s and then Al’s daughter Carol Bushnell now farms it. It’s located high above the Dry Creek Valley floor. This Zinfandel was aged in American oak barrels of which 38% were new oak for 16 months. The alcohol clocks in at a whopping 16.1%. Lots of black and dark fruit, plum, dry herbs, with nice pepper and cinnamon gripping you on the finish. Paired well with our ribs and they suggest Grilled Loin Lamb Chops with Red Wine, Garlic & Honey Glaze.