What To Drink Now: Zinfandel

Bold and spicy, juicy and fresh, peppery and dense, Zinfandel wines are the ideal selection for pairing with summer barbecue favorites, like smoked brisket and saucy ribs, grilled ribeye or tri-tip, slow-roasted pork belly, Italian sausage, even blackberry pie. With options ranging from highly affordable to very high-end, there is a Zin available for every palate and pocketbook.

From steeply terraced, old-vine, rocky vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA in Washington State, History The Pines Vineyard Zinfandel ($65) is concentrated and dense, thanks to the character 100+-year-old vines give to the wine. The vineyard was first planted in the late 1800s and fell abandoned, but not forgotten, until its revival in the 1980s. Today, the bold wine celebrates its history, revealing blackberry and wild black raspberry notes, melding black licorice, toasted baking spice, and crushed black pepper.

Paso Robles was an early-on promoter of the variety, with wineries like Daou, Ridge, and Turley showcasing the quality of the fruit and the region in their Zinfandel wines. Powerful, succulent, and delightful, Ridge Benito Dusi Ranch Zinfandel ($35) reveals classic dark plum, cherry, and berry notes, melding harmoniously with dark chocolate, crushed pepper, and blackberry jam with a lovely note of acidity on the finish.

Paraduxx Rector Creek Vineyard Block 4 Red Wine ($85) from Napa Valley blends powerful Petit Verdot with juicy Zinfandel for a luscious, lengthy wine with depth, richness, and bold, powerful flavors. Opening with floral notes of wildflowers and woody herb, followed by flavors of dark cherry, blueberry, toffee, and cedar, the expressive wine lingers for days, creating an experience that is unexpected and quite welcome.

With anise, cardamom, dried thyme, and pink peppercorns, Goosecross Napa Valley Zinfandel ($42) highlights the spicy, savoriness of the variety, creating a layered wine with immense character. From the Lincoln Creek Vineyard in the Oakville AVA, the savory aromas lead effortlessly to a palate of ripe fig and raisin, crushed pomegranate, dark cherry, finishing with toasted oak and roasted espresso.