After recording the Everyday Drinkers Podcast Episode 4: Merlot, I had to take a recommendation from Doug on his opinion of the “Zin” from Cellar No. 8. I’m new to the Zinfandel grape, usually sticking to Merlot, Cabernet and recently Pinot Noir. Just a background note for those not familiar with the red vs. white zinfandel, they are the same grape used to make both the red and the white wine.
Red wines use the entire skin, pips and all the goodies when it comes to fermenting the wine while white wines only use the juices, which is why a zinfandel with only juices is white instead of red. Cut into a blue/red grape someday and take note of the internal color, it’s almost always a clearish green.
A typical Zinfandel is going to be a bit cheaper than many wines on the market, between $8.00 and $20.00 for a standard bottle (but you can always get more expensive) and usually located in California. Cellar No. 8’s brand was roughly USD $9.00, so we’re not talking top-shelf wine but we’re not concerned with top-shelf quality when talking value–the real factor.
This is a very berry tasting wine. It smells of a blackberry, raspberry and cherry mix–very fruity. Initially it will impact your sweet taste buds before firing off a few others and giving you a spicy earthy flavor which is very satisfying. Quickly you’ll realize it’s highly balanced toward the alcohol with a bitter tannic finish. If you’re looking for a sweeter wine you’ll probably want to stick with a white zinfandel.
I found the finish to be very acidic, causing me to salivate to neutralize the acids from the wine. New wine drinkers may not be a huge fan of the taste left in your mouth when you’ve swallowed the red but an average red drinker will not be too surprised. The bite reminded me of an off-dry (slightly sweet) Cabernet Sauvignon which isn’t a bad thing, if you don’t mind it. Wine is highly up to each persons perception so what one might call sour/dry another may call slightly sweet, so take that into consideration. This wine may smell more sweet than taste, if you take a breath while drinking it may give you a sweet impression but, realistically, its not too sweet to the tongue.
Like many Zinfandel red’s, this wine is not a table wine, coming in at 14.6% alcohol by volume (table wines really are defined between 7-14%). If this wine was sweet like candy you’d probably find yourself staggering down the hall in a drunken stupor, the tannic finish helps to slow down your consumption and respect the wine a bit more.
This wine may pair well with a red meat, poultry or fish but I’d prefer it as a stand alone after dinner wine. It’s a very dark purple wine, hard to see through in your glass but still medium bodied in the mouth. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking to explore your inner red wine drinker and the price is right.
I still think I prefer a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and my new joy, the Pinot Noir because they’re not as intense in alcohol.