That time when we in the U.S. partake in the American pastimes of family gatherings, and patriotic remembrance, and – best of all – charing meat over an open flame until it is covered in crispy, tasty, blackened carcinogens.
And also trying not burn our houses down.
There is but one method of cooking appropriate for Memorial Day – and that is good ol’ fashioned grilling.
And for good ol’ American grilling, there is but one (okay, maybe not just one but certainly one of the best) good ol’ American wine to pair with your holiday backyard barbecue masterpiece…
…And that wine is Zinfandel.
Never mind that Zin is actually the southern Italian grape Primitivo. Or that it’s probably originally from Croatia. If there is one country to embrace a melting-pot Italo-Croatian creation, it’s the good ol’ U.S. of A., baby! Zin is the (fruit) bomb. It’s over-the-top jammy goodness (we’re talking the unadulterated Zin grape here, not the sweet, blushy White Zin). It’s so good that it’s got its own fanclub.
Especially at the BBQ. That’s because Zin’s flavor is so bold that it stands up to just about any char grilled goodness (including your famous, spicy-sweet, secret-recipe BBQ sauce) that you might concoct this long holiday weekend.
Zin has been grown in some way/shape/form in the U.S. since the 1800s, taking off in CA after
speculators turned from the Gold Rush to agriculture for their fortunes. As a result, CA has a good amount of old Zin vines. And the older the vine, the lower the grape yields, the more concentrated the fruit, and the higher the potential quality of the resulting wines.
Zin grapes tend to ripen a bit unevenly in tight clusters. What this means is that if most of the grapes are left to achieve full ripeness on the vine, some of the grapes in the same cluster will have shriveled into concentrated, raisiny goodness. Hello, alcohol! (More Zin facts and history can be found in The Oxford Companion to Wine).
Like us Americans, who wear their hearts on their sleeves, Zin grapes are thin-skinned. Also like us Americans, Zin wines are brazen and bold (okay, and sometimes a bit obnoxious). They are not afraid to tell you what’s on their mind. And what’s on their mind is tons of in-your-face, jammy fruit. And booze (Zin wines can reach alcohol contents of 14.5% or higher).
That fruit is gonna successfully go toe-to toe with anything that you can throw at it this weekend – just like us Americans.
As for recommendations:
For those on a tight budget, you’d be hard-pressed to find better Zin value for your buck than Ravenswood.
For a bit more cash, Frog’s Leap makes a killer, earth-friendly Zin.
On the “let’s splurge!” end of things, I like Duckhorn’s Paraduxx Zin blend.
So this holiday weekend get your party on, get your grill on, and get your Zin on. And have a safe and happy one (when Due here went to the emergency room on Memorial Day a few years ago, the hospital staff told me that they expect spikes in emergency room injury visits due to accidents during this holiday weekend – don’t be one of them). Enjoy responsibly!
(images: healthline.com, winecountrygetaways.com, alderbrook.com, bbqreport.com)