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White Zinfandel [split from LA]

n
Neta Mar 12, 2010 06:39 AM

(This post was split from the LA board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693746 -- The Chowhound Team)

May I ask you a question. What is wrong with white zinfandel wine? I am not a wine drinker but we did tour the Berringer Vineyards in Napa and when they served this sampling, I thought it rather pleasant. I have heard several people diss this beverage and I would like to know from those in the know why this is not even considered a wine. Does wine have to have a dry vinegary taste to be considered a good wine? I myself prefer domestic beer and a JD and water every once in a while so you can see, I am not in the know and I am just curious.

  1. e
    erockin84 May 28, 2010 02:40 AM

    So I was born and raised in St. Helena (the actual town that Beringer is in), I work in the industry, and still live in the area. In fact a friend of mine from high school that works at Beringer always points and laughs at it on restaurant menus, and says they don't sell it at the winery. If they do, I have been giving my customers some misinformation. But, growing up there, I don't drink much wine, I assume much of the same way that people that live in Gilroy don't much care for garlic. But I will say that I prefer a white zin, over a cheap cab, but once you get in the 35-40 dollar range, I start to take the "real stuff". The only problem with white zin, is that it has a couple minor legitimate complaints that have gotten blown out of proportion. The first and foremost, in my opinion, is that because of the sugar, you don't get the opportunity to taste what the wine maker was trying to do, which is honestly, usually nothing with white zin anyway. I'm not aware of any small production white zin. And your beringers and sutter homes definitely do not use the best zin grapes in their white zin. Anyway, drink what you want, enjoy it, and just remember what you read here, so if anyone ever says anything about it, you can fire back with some information, and say that you just opened because they were around, and you didn't want to open the good stuff.

    1 Reply
    1. re: erockin84
      d
      dinwiddie May 28, 2010 06:50 AM

      I think Midlife probably put it best. But I don't put it all down to snobbery either. I'm a "serious wine" drinker, and yes, many years ago I drank White Zin. However, while white zinfandel is wine, a Vespa is also thechnically a motorcycle.

      It takes time to develop a palate and taste for wine, and for many people white zinfandel is just what the OP described, pleasent and let's be honest, cheap. Inexpensive wine is inexpensive wine. Some of it is drinkable, but none of it compares to the well crafted, seriously produced fine wines that cost much more. Cheap cab or pinot noir or chards are just that, cheap but not particularly good from a wine geeks point of view. White zin appeals to those who want something sweet. Like invino said, try a Riesling sometime.

    2. invinotheresverde Mar 15, 2010 08:43 AM

      I agree with the others, and say drink what you like.

      That said, white zinfandel, and its drinkers, are considered amateurs, at best. The stuff is like Kool Aid, with too much RS, too little acid, and obnoxious fruit. I know it's helped many people ease into real wine (which I hope it does for the OP), but it's pretty much the Bud Lite, no, make that the Zima, of the wine world.

      Give German Riesling a try sometime, OP. Wait for the magic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: invinotheresverde
        a
        Afrodesia Mar 15, 2010 09:35 AM

        Almost everyone starts with sweet wine. That's just how it is. At least in America which may be because of our general food habits & propensity to high levels of sugar in much of our processed foods. Blame big business, prosperity, cheap sugar prices for so long...whatever. While other parts of the world (especialy Europe) love their sweets, they generally save the sugar for dessert & prefer their wine to be more food friendly with a higher alcohol content (sugar being fermented out) which means drier wines.

        That being said, as a person drinks more wine on a regular basis, their taste almost always evolves to enjoying more 'intellectual' wines. More complex. The palate becomes bored & likes adventure, generally. Of course, that well-made Reisling or Sauterne (always well-made ; ) is sweet too, but has the acidity to balance which makes them great with food.

        I am a chef/sommelier but my beginnings, while not really liking white zin, included wines with higher sugar content. at first. I was lucky in that my beginnings were in Sonoma/Napa & environs so I had the best of the best from which to learn. We all start somewhere but our nature determines whether we stay in place or allow our curiousity to lead us to greater tastes.

      2. Eiron Mar 13, 2010 12:06 PM

        Wolfe & Midlife are right on the money: drink what you like, & pair it with whatever you like to eat with it. You might also enjoy Beringer's White Merlot.

        1. Midlife Mar 12, 2010 04:55 PM

          Read through this topic: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/671572
          It will either explain things or confuse you even more.

          IMHO......... White Zindandel has nothing wrong with it. There is a group that considers it a 'starter wine' that one will no longer want to be associated with once they've 'graduated'. But it's still a wine!

          From a purely technical standpoint, I think there's a case that White Zin production is 'manipulated' in a way that 'better wines' are not, but all that refers to is the fact that the wine is sweeter than most because the fermentation process is stopped before all the sugars are gone. I think that if the wine's sweetness came from a more
          standard' winemaking method, if would be more 'acceptable'. There are other 'manipulations' done in winemaking that don't take the same knocks.

          White Zin is supposedly the 3rd largest selling wine varietal in the US, so it can't simply be dismissed as 'not real'. The issue seems to be that part of the wine 'community' considers it more like Arbor Mist or Boone's Farm than what they consider 'real' wine.

          My 2¢: If you like it enjoy it!!!! Just don't expect it to be available at higher end restaurants where it will not be offered for reasons of pairing difficulty, low price, or just plain snobbery.

          26 Replies
          1. re: Midlife
            n
            Neta Mar 13, 2010 09:56 AM

            Thank you for the clarification. When we went to the Beringer winery a few years ago, we enjoyed the bright clean taste so much that we bought a case of their White Zin special reserve. One of my close friends had a field day with that one making fun of my choice of white zin. I think you nailed it "just plain snobbery!" Though we are not really wine drinkers, we do enjoy the Stella Rosa sold at our local San Antonio winery. It is a sweet wine but I guess that is the taste we prefer.

            1. re: Neta
              Midlife Mar 13, 2010 11:15 AM

              I wouldn't disagree with your assessment of that one situation as 'snobbery'. I once watched a hostess refuse a wine gift of Two-Buck Chuck with 'Don't let my husband see that!"............. talk about snobbery!!!!! I'm 100% behind your drinking the 'taste you prefer'.

              I'm also glad you mentioned Beringer White Zin RESERVE because I distinctly remember them making a higher priced White Zin at one point and haven't been able to find any corroboration of it. There WAS a point in time when White Zin was treated more 'seriously' than it is today.

              BTW - I used to eat lunch at San Antonio Winery often when I worked in the Lincoln Heights area years ago. It's the only functioning winery in the central Los Angeles area and every time I've been there it's crowded (in spite of the economy). The very reasonable restaurant there helps.

            2. re: Midlife
              z
              zin1953 May 28, 2010 07:44 AM

              Question?

              >>> I think there's a case that White Zin production is 'manipulated' in a way that 'better wines' are not, but all that refers to is the fact that the wine is sweeter than most because the fermentation process is stopped before all the sugars are gone. I think that if the wine's sweetness came from a more standard' winemaking method, if would be more 'acceptable'. <<<

              There are two ways in which a TABLE wine* can contain sweetness. The first is to stop (or "arrest") the fermentation prior to its natural completion. This is most often accomplished by removing the yeast and, thus, retaining any (unfermented) residual sugar in the wine.

              The second is to allow the yeast to finish fermenting the wine to dryness, BUT then "back-blending" some UNfermented grape juice (reserved for this purpose) into the finished wine. This is also called "adding muté."

              NOTE: one could also add sugar (cane or beet) to the finished wine, but this method is illegal in the US for wines produced from Vitis vinifera.

              So . . . you can 1) ferment all the juice, but stop the yeast from finishing their task and retaining some natural, residual grape sugar; or, 2) make a blend of dry wine and sweet grape juice. Which one is the superior method? Which is the traditional method?

              In both cases, the answer is #1. This is the method Beringer utilizes for their White Zinfandel.

              >>> White Zin is supposedly the 3rd largest selling wine varietal in the US, so it can't simply be dismissed as 'not real'. The issue seems to be that part of the wine 'community' considers it more like Arbor Mist or Boone's Farm than what they consider 'real' wine. <<<

              I would dispute this statement as it stands, and would be more specific. On the CONSUMER side of things, many so-called "serious" wine drinkers "poo-poo" White Zinfandel and dismiss it as just alcoholic soda pop, like Arbor Mist or a wine cooler. On the RETAIL side of things, although many (if not all) stores will stock White Zinfandel on their shelves, employees there will also dismiss it -- pointing across the room to the floor stack, rather than assisting the customer (the way they might/should when the customer is seeking a Cabernet or Chardonnay); *** however *** the store owner loves the profit he/she makes from selling all those cases of White Zinfandel. On the RESTAURANT side of things . . . well, there's an entire separate thread for that discussion. ;^)

              But on the PRODUCTION side of the California wine trade -- i.e.: winemakers, other winery employees, winery owners, etc. -- NO ONE dismisses White Zin, and it is treated with the same respect as other "second-tier" varietals, such as Zinfandel, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Barbera, Petite Sirah, etc., etc., EXCEPT that it is more of a cash flow/cash cow wine. In other words, it pays the bills while making that $100+ Cabernet that takes 2.5 years to make is more for prestige and reputation.

              I have never met anyone who actually works in a California winery -- whether that winery makes White Zin or not -- that treats White Zin with disdain or disrespect, that dismisses White Zin as "soda pop."

              And has often been said on this site (and elsewhere), the very existence of old vine Zinfandel vineyards is due solely to the popularity of White Zin in the 1970s and 1980s. Every Zinfandel lover *should* respect White Zin (but typically does not); every winery that makes Zinfandel *does* respect White Zin . . .

              Just my 2¢, based upon my experience, but probably worth far less. Keep the change . . .

              Cheers,
              Jason

              * "Table wine," as distinct from a fortified wine, sparkling wine, flavored wine, or a wine cooler.

              1. re: zin1953
                Midlife May 28, 2010 11:43 AM

                Jason, so............... are you just adding more depth to the statements I was making or are you really "disputing" them? I have nowhere near the expertise you have, which is one of the reasons I do a bunch of research before I post anything like this here, but I'm wondering if anything I said is actually 'wrong'. I'm not challenging you...... just want to know if I really misspoke.

                I think you're saying that stopping fermentation is not "manipulation". I have no basis on which to challenge that. I'd just like to be sure I understand. Re the second <<<....>>>: I don't disagree with anything you said, but I don't see how it 'disputes' what you quoted from me. If this is about semantics, that's one thing, but I'd really like to know if it's more substantive.

                1. re: Midlife
                  z
                  zin1953 May 28, 2010 01:15 PM

                  Overall, it's all about adding more depth. However, "manipulation" is one of those words that conjures up an alchemist or sorcerer waving a magic wand. OK, maybe not. But it does bring to MY mind things like using reverse osmosis or spinning cones to remove alcohol, or the addition of Mega Purple for color, or the use of oak chips for flavor - in other words, things that are somewhat unnatural and/or artificial. Arresting the fermentation to preserve some of the wine's natural, residual sugar is something that has been done for centuries, and there's nothing artificial or unnatural about it.

                  I mean, on the one hand, I suppose you could consider pruning the vine "manipulation" of a sort, but . . .

                  As far as the second half of my post is concerned, the wine community is hardly monolithic. Most of the "dissing" of White Zin I hear comes more from the consumers who think they know it all, the so-called "wine snob" if you will, rather than people seriously involved in the wine trade. (As I said above, I've never heard anyone in the trade dismiss White Zin the way I hear consumers do.) My "dispute," such as it is, comes merely from the broad brush used.

                  Cheers,
                  Jason

                  1. re: zin1953
                    Chinon00 May 28, 2010 03:48 PM

                    "As I said above, I've never heard anyone in the trade dismiss White Zin the way I hear consumers do"

                    Above you mentioned retail and production not dissing WZ. But doesn't the fact that it is a cash cow for them kinda effect that? Another question since you have access to those in the trade, how much WZ is consumed among this group to your observation?

                    1. re: Chinon00
                      z
                      zin1953 May 28, 2010 05:04 PM

                      No, actually I said that often retail employees will -- as they try to show off their "sophistication" -- but the owners of retail stores/chains won't because they enjoy the profits they make from selling it. Production people know that the proverbial $100 Reserve Cab is for prestige, but it's the White Zin that (often) pays the bills.

                      Put another way, it's not viewed as a "serious" wine, in the way that their ultra-exclusive, high-end, Beaucoups Bucks Bordeaux Blend is viewed, That's why I referred to it above as a "second-tier" varietal -- it's a "worker bee" rather than the "Queen Bee," if you will.

                      As for "having access to those in the trade," let me just say that, while I wouldn't really describe it that way, I suppose that it could be described that way. I spent some 35 years in the trade, and I still judge wines professionally. Many of my closest friends and associates are still in the trade in one form or another -- as winemakers or are employed by wineries in some other capacity; as importers, retailers, restauranteurs, etc., etc.

                      But to your point: every winemaker who *makes* a White Zin, tastes his or her own as well as those made by other wineries on a regular basis. But "tasting" is different than "consuming." Consumption of off-dry White Zins is minimal within this group as a whole. But the number of dry rosés consumed within this group is increasing annually.

                      There is a winery in Sonoma by the name of J. Pedroncelli. They started making a FANTASTIC Dry Rosé of Zinfandel back in the 1950s. It was a very popular wine among people in the trade, but it was too dry for many consumers who were used to wines like Sutter Home White Zinfandel, Blue Nun, and Mateus . . . The winery is still there, and still makes their Dry Rosé of Zinfandel; the 2009 is $10, but to be honest, I haven't even seen a bottle of in -- probably 15 years.

                      Cheers,
                      Jason

                      1. re: zin1953
                        Chinon00 May 28, 2010 05:39 PM

                        "That's why I referred to it above as a "second-tier" varietal -- it's a "worker bee" rather than the "Queen Bee," if you will."

                        What are some other "second-tier" varietals in your opinion?

                        1. re: Chinon00
                          z
                          zin1953 May 29, 2010 08:36 AM

                          Classically defined, the "Royal Court" of grape varieties has been considered as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling -- alternately described as King, Queen, Prince, and Princess, *or* King and Queen of red and white wines, respectively.

                          These could also be described as "first-tier" varieties.

                          Of course there are many others that could vie for the title -- or, perhaps, like the Saudi royal family, the number of princes seem endless . . . obviously Nebbiolo and Syrah are rock-solid candidates, so too Gewürztraminer and Chenin Blanc (when they are planted in the right location). But if we move beyond "royalty" -- and if we *focus* on California -- it all depends upon how far you want to carry this analogy. The "landed gentry" (or "bourgeoisie") if you will would include grapes like Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and so on and so on, and if you want to carry it so far as to include the "serfs" ("proletariat") would include grapes such as Colombard, Ruby Cabernet, and other such grapes used in making the sea of generic wines.

                          But obviously such definitions are very fluid, and I wouldn't make too much of it. For example, in the 1970s, Grenache would definitely have been in the lower category, so would Mataro and even Petite Sirah, for it was these grapes that labored unknown in the background, comprising the backbone of most generic red table wines.

                          The first varietal Petite Sirah was made in 1965, and people began to get excited about it with the 1969-1971 vintages; Grenache and Mataro didn't begin to shine until the mid-1980s, and have only gained in importance in the intervening 25 years.

                          "Second-tier" doesn't refer to quality (in that "you can't make good wine from a second-tier variety), so much as it refers to a poorly defined mix to prestige and price. You can have some truly outstanding wines from Petite Sirah, for example, but the grapes will never command as high a price as that commanded by Cabernet Sauvignon . . .

                          Cheers,
                          Jason

                          1. re: zin1953
                            Chinon00 May 29, 2010 09:38 PM

                            So there are fantastic (and some solid and some awful) dry Roses of Zinfandel being made today. And those in the trade simply avoid them all en masse? That seems odd to me. Why would they according to you minimally consume fantastic wines whatever the varietal?

                            1. re: Chinon00
                              z
                              zin1953 May 30, 2010 01:10 PM

                              When (and where) did I say this?

                            2. re: zin1953
                              Chinon00 May 30, 2010 05:36 AM

                              Sorry zin1953 I miss read your earlier post where you stated that "off dry" WZ is minimally consumed among those in the trade. I'll cut to the chase with my argument. Many of us outside the trade surely clown or dismiss WZ. But those in the trade apparently drink very little of the off-dry WZ for pleasure and according to you very little dry WZ is made. So what I've learned from your posts is that those in the trade who take off dry WZ seriously are producers and retail owners who do so mostly on the basis of the income it provides and not for the intrinsic value of the product. Apparently very few if any in the trade consume off dry. Just seems like a stretch to suggest that there isn't a basis for dismissal of off dry WZ by those outside trade when those within it aren't apparently to keen on it from a quality standpoint.

                              1. re: Chinon00
                                z
                                zin1953 May 30, 2010 01:56 PM

                                >>> Just seems like a stretch to suggest that there isn't a basis for dismissal of off dry WZ by those outside trade when those within it aren't apparently to keen on it from a quality standpoint. <<<

                                ???

                                I am not sure where you draw this conclusion.

                                ---> DANGER! DANGER! WARNING, WILL ROBINSON! VAST GENERALIZATION APPROACHING! <---

                                Keep in mind that NOTHING is absolute, and there are EXCEPTIONS to everything! Technically speaking, anyone employed by a winery, a retail wine store, or a wholesale company is "in the trade." When I have been referring to people "in the trade" never dismissing White Zinfandel, I am making the several presumptions that I failed to make completely clear.

                                1) The people to who, *I* am referring to as being "in the trade" are people employed by wineries, not those in retail or wholesale.
                                2) Those winery employees I am *most* referring to are in production, not sales.
                                3) Those people are also in the field as a long-term career.

                                Again, I apologize that this was not clear earlier.

                                Secondly, keep in mind that most people in the trade simply do not -- OK, *rarely* drink wines in the off-dry category (think typical residual sugar levels on a Chenin Blanc or White Zinfandel. OTOH, they *do* drink dry rosés/"pink wines."

                                Secondly, where did I say that White Zin lacked quality? (As in, " when those within it [the wine trade] aren't apparently to keen on it from a quality standpoint.") No winemaker is intentionally making $#!+ wine and releasing it; winemakers -- whether they are making a $300 Reserve Napa Cabernet or a $3 White Zinfandel -- are making the best they can with what they got. And several winemakers are deservedly proud of the high quality of their White Zinfandels.

                                1. re: zin1953
                                  Chinon00 May 30, 2010 05:43 PM

                                  "Secondly, keep in mind that most people in the trade simply do not -- OK, *rarely* drink wines in the off-dry category (think typical residual sugar levels on a Chenin Blanc or White Zinfandel."

                                  I do not disagree that those you know in the trade might steer away from sweeter wines. But I refuse to believe that they regard Demi Sec Champagne for example and WZ to achieve the same level of wine making.

                                  1. re: Chinon00
                                    z
                                    zin1953 May 30, 2010 09:26 PM

                                    1) This is a discussion about table wines, not fortified or sparkling wines. I have been limiting my comments to that. There are LOTS of people in the trade who regularly enjoy an assortment of Porto, Sherry, sparkling wines, dessert wines, etc., etc., etc.

                                    2) Demi-Sec Champagne was, for all intents and purposes, non-existent in the marketplace five years ago. And 10-20 years ago, the major demi-sec was Mumm's Cordon Vert -- indeed it was virtually the only one. Today, it is extraordinary difficult to find, whereas Moët & Chandon's Nectar Imperial is seemingly everywhere. Roederer's Demi-Sec has all but disappeared, but Veuve Clicquot's, Joseph Perrier's, and Billicart-Salmon are all available.

                                    3) ANY Champagne is far more difficult to make than ANY table wine. Champagne is the only wine a winemaker cannot taste. But more importantly, there is no reason that __________ cannot be excellent, regardless of what ___________ may be: Cabernet Sauvignon, Brut Champagne, or rosé/White Zin. Some wines are more complicated to make than others, but that doesn't lessen the fact that the final product is (or at least **can be**) excellent.

                                    Cheers,
                                    Jason

                                    1. re: zin1953
                                      Chinon00 May 30, 2010 11:25 PM

                                      And I do not doubt for one minute that an excellent off dry WZ can be produced. I just haven't observed one available today. If you have please share and let know exactly why you considerate an excellent wine.

                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                        z
                                        zin1953 May 31, 2010 09:50 AM

                                        "Today" being the operative word, I would agree that there are not any, or rather, that I have not tasted any recently. It's not a wine that I personally seek out*.

                                        This isn't to say that there are not or have not been any; I can think of several. The last two White Zinfandels that I would have considered excellent were produced by William Wheeler and Buehler. Indeed, I'd put my money today on the Buehler -- I know they made it in 2008 (they started making it in 1983, and have a superb track record), but I'd opt for the 2009 (which I haven't seen).

                                        As for why it is excellent, why is ANY wine excellent? Because it has balance, depth of flavor, complexity, and so on.

                                        Cheers,
                                        Jason

                                        * OTOH, I drink a good deal of rosé.

                                        1. re: zin1953
                                          Chinon00 May 31, 2010 12:42 PM

                                          But Zin1953, Zinfandel is widely planted and off dry WZ largely vinified. Yet you cannot:
                                          1) name ANY excellent examples available today.
                                          2) Say there are ANY that you pursue today. 
                                          3) Say there are ANY that people in the trade that you know pursue today.

                                          Aren't you and those in the trade then without saying it essentially dismissing off dry WZ? I mean we all recognize that folks enjoy what they enjoy and have a right to pursue that. But in the realm of the pursuit of more unique and precious things in the world of wine you aren't suggesting that its debatable whether or not off dry WZ has a place there today are you?

                                          1. re: Chinon00
                                            Midlife May 31, 2010 03:01 PM

                                            Jason can more than speak for himself, but 1) he DID name Buehler as a current example of good WZ. The 2008 is apparently their most current vintage: http://www.buehlervineyards.com/wines...

                                            I'm wondering how he would answer 2 & 3, but I'd have to say that not pursuing a varietal is not anywhere near the same as dismissing it. In the case of WZ, the wine itself tends to be on the sweeter side by nature and is not necessarily something any specific person might desire to 'pursue'.

                                            I'd also have to suggest to you that ANY wine that needs to be in the $7 range to be marketable is not going to easily achieve that status of 'unique and precious' even if it does achieve the status of 'better than mass-produced' examples of the same varietal. I really think that all Jason's been supporting has been the seriousness with which producers regard any 'legitimate' wine varietal that has achieved the sales of WZ.

                                            1. re: Midlife
                                              Chinon00 Jun 1, 2010 06:38 AM

                                              I appreciate WZ's success from a revenue generating standpoint and from a quality control standpoint. But isn't it obvious that we who dismiss it aren't doing so upon that basis? We do so on the basis that it is characterless; save apparently a very very small number of producers that zin1953 has mentioned. 
                                              I don't wanna beat up on WZ but the argument that zin1953 and his people in the trade avoid drinking any of this pervasive wine simply because it's "off-dry" I find hard to swallow (no pun intended). Zin1953 has reviewed (and positively so) off-dry chenin blanc on CH and has suggested off-dry chenin, riesling, etc as well. So it don't come down to sugar me thinks. Maybe it's some strange form of political correctness. I'm done. Sorry for being so long winded.    

                                              1. re: Chinon00
                                                z
                                                zin1953 Jun 1, 2010 10:54 AM

                                                >>> We do so on the basis that it is characterless; save apparently a very very small number of producers that zin1953 [Jason] has mentioned. <<<

                                                Can't we say the same for most California Chardonnays? Merlots? Cabernets? Pinots? or ____________? Given the total number of Chardonnays, Merlots, Cabernets, Pinots, and ____________ produced in California, how many are truly excellent, versus characterless?

                                                >>> the argument that zin1953 [Jason] and his people in the trade avoid drinking any of this pervasive wine simply because it's "off-dry" I find hard to swallow (no pun intended). <<<

                                                Most people in the trade, and indeed most *experienced* consumers, do not drink a) low-end wines, or b) off-dry wines OF THE TYPE typified by off-dry White Zinfandels, California Riesling (a German Spätlese is a different story), California Chenin Blanc (so too is a Vouvray, for example). It's simply a fact, period.

                                                >>> Zin1953 [Jason] has reviewed (and positively so) off-dry chenin blanc on CH and has suggested off-dry chenin, riesling, etc as well. <<<

                                                Off the top of my head, I cannot recall positively reviewing such wines UNLESS you're speaking of a French Chenin or Riesling from France, Germany, or Austria. I just don't drink off-dry California versions of these varietal wines -- with a couple of exceptions (Navarro, for one).

                                                OTOH, I *do* recommend them.

                                                How? Why? Simple. I can and do TASTE them, and even if I personally do not LIKE them, I can appreciate that "X" or "Y" is a sound, well-made wine and would be a great suggestion for those who do like/enjoy this style of wine.

                                                I spent 25+ years as a wine writer, tasting and reviewing wines for publication. The same is true for judging wines at various professional competitions. You *must* be able to taste an appreciate wines that may not be to your own personal palate preference, but are still excellent examples of that style of wine . . .

                                                Cheers,
                                                Jason

                                                1. re: zin1953
                                                  Chinon00 Jun 4, 2010 06:59 PM

                                                  "Most people in the trade, and indeed most *experienced* consumers, do not drink a) low-end wines, or b) off-dry wines OF THE TYPE typified by off-dry White Zinfandels, California Riesling (a German Spätlese is a different story), California Chenin Blanc (so too is a Vouvray, for example). It's simply a fact, period."

                                                  How that statement contradicts mine in terms of dismissing WZ (and apparently a host of other wines) I do not know.

                                            2. re: Chinon00
                                              z
                                              zin1953 Jun 1, 2010 11:04 AM

                                              >>> But Zin1953 [Jason], Zinfandel is widely planted and off dry WZ largely vinified. Yet you cannot:
                                              1) name ANY excellent examples available today.
                                              2) Say there are ANY that you pursue today.
                                              3) Say there are ANY that people in the trade that you know pursue today. <<<

                                              1) Buehler would be my first choice.

                                              2) Well, not liking this particular style of wine, there aren't any that *I* would personally persue.

                                              3) See #2.

                                              >>> But in the realm of the pursuit of more unique and precious things in the world of wine you aren't suggesting that its debatable whether or not off dry WZ has a place there today are you? <<<

                                              I think there is a place for EVERY wine out there. I don't have to like it for there to be a place for it. I truly enjoy a good DRY Zinfandel Rosé; I just personally don't enjoy off-dry White Zins.

                                              Cheers,
                                              Jason

                            3. re: zin1953
                              b
                              BigWoodenSpoon May 29, 2010 12:39 PM

                              J. Pedroncelli wines are very nice and the people there when we visited them in February were really great. Their 2008 "Friends" wine ($10) is a very tasty dry/juicy blend of Zinfandel, Merlot & Sangiovese perfect for easy drinking & picnics. I'm not sure if I had their Rose, but the Port was delicious! Traditional grapes, neutral grape spirits, great flavor balance ($18 for 500 ml.) Had to go back down the road from another winery so I could bring a bottle home to share with family around the holidays.

                              As to the White Zin question, drink what you like and don't be bothered by other folks. Goodness knows my customers love the stuff, but I can't remember drinking any since I discovered Riesling. From what I recall there was something of a "gloopiness" factor with the RS that didn't make it as refreshing as other things.
                              Hmm, might just have to put it on the Tasting line-up next week to see where my palate lies nowdays. My tongue is cringing at the prospect, but it did the same thing before we tried the Shaw Chardonnay which I didn't hate as much as I would of liked. Some of my Crew enjoys the sweeter stuff, so at least they'll be happy.

                          2. re: zin1953
                            Midlife May 28, 2010 08:13 PM

                            I don't want to prolong an unnecessary debate on semantics, and I do defer to your knowledge of what is or isn't properly called manipulation. But......... on the issue if 'dissing' White Zin, what I said was that "part" of the wine community considers it more like Arbor Mist, etc.. I would consder consumers a "part". And by the way, I HAVE heard wine reps dismiss White Zin, though certainly not to anyone who buys it from them. That's all.... I'm done.

                        2. re: zin1953
                          d
                          dinwiddie May 28, 2010 12:29 PM

                          Jason,

                          I have to admit, much as I dislike White Zin these days, I am very glad it exists for the very reason that it saved those old Zin vines that would have been plowed up and replaced with endless cookie cutter houses.

                      2. wolfe Mar 12, 2010 11:33 AM

                        "I thought it rather pleasant."
                        That's all that counts.

                        1. streetgourmetla Mar 12, 2010 10:44 AM

                          I have no problem with it, just making a general statement about her tastes on food and drink. I liked that all she needed was white zinfandel back then, that meant simple sweet, affordable bottles of wine were all she needed. More bang for the buck! I can enjoy simple wines, too.

                          I didn't like her choices of special occasion destinations, like Benihana, etc.. But, I'm a pragmatist and of course went along happily. Anything for the ladies.

                          1. Das Ubergeek Mar 12, 2010 07:58 AM

                            The short answer for me, which will probably get split into a thread on the Wine board, is that it is simply too sweet.

                            (Long answer follows, along with recommendations for places in LA to try different wines.)

                            White Zinfandel was created by accident after a batch of wine didn't have enough yeast in it to fully ferment the juice, so it is not really fully wine, but partially-fermented grape juice. Wines are typically 12-14% alcohol; White Zinfandel is typically 8-10%, and that makes a huge difference.

                            Because it's so sweet, you lose any possibility of tasting the terroir (the taste of the place it was grown, which comes from soil and sun and weather and a hundred other things), so grapes for White Zinfandel are grown in places better known for raisins than great wine, thrown together from everywhere and allowed to ferment partly.

                            Interestingly, some people are making artisanal White Zinfandel; this is red Zinfandel with the colour bled off and allowed to ferment fully. I've had it; the result is not remotely like Turning Leaf or Pooping Butterfly or whatever. It's a surprisingly complex wine, and not really sweet at all. You should have seen my face the first time I had it and the barkeep told me I was having White Zinfandel next.

                            If you are looking for a light wine to drink, I suggest going to a reputable wine shop and asking for the Portuguese wine "vinho verde" (veen-yoh vair-day) or its Basque equivalent, txakoli (chah-koh-lee) or txakolina (chah-koh-lee-nah). It's a light, fruity, non-vinegary, totally non-threatening wine with a long pedigree and a great taste. It's also very slightly effervescent and should run you $5-$8 a bottle.

                            I suggest finding a wine bar or wine shop, introducing yourself to the bartender, and putting yourself in his or her hands. Don't be intimidated. Good wine people want you to enjoy yourself, not collect points toward some kind of imagined wine drinkers' loyalty club, and they're not out to be pedantic, professorial snobs. Tell them you've been drinking White Zinfandel and they'll bring you things that will be a small step away, not the big brash bold reds. I'd bet they'll start with Chardonnay, for example.

                            I say this as someone who loves wine but simply doesn't know as much as I should about it. What I do know about it is due mostly to people at wine bars and wine shops who have taken the time to talk to me.

                            On the Westside there's the Wine House on Cotner, Beverage Warehouse in Mar Vista, in Studio City there's Vendome, in Pasadena there's Vertical Wine Bistro, in Costa Mesa there's Hi-Time, etc., etc., etc.

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