I’m a bit hard of smell in this world, so when a scent jumps out at me (especially one I can identify) I feel like I’ve won a prize.
Enter Thomas Henry's Zinfandel (2007). From my first whiff of this deep, dark wine (Meghan claims it’s garnet colored... suck it Sherwin-Williams) I was certain I smelled caramel. There was more there, certainly, and as soon as Meghan put the thought of vanilla in my head, it was like she flipped on a lightswitch. Very quickly the caramel smell transitioned into a caramel taste, followed by a dark cherry flavor and chewy texture. The wine was fairly dry, not too tannic and not too acidic... an enjoyable wine.
The wine-recommending folks at Cool Vines said this bold zin would likely pair nicely with some BBQ or burgers, but this being football's opening day and fall's first chill, we decided to try it alongside a bowl of warm, spicy veggie chili and some old-fashioned skillet cornbread. We're not the least bit squeamish when it comes to spicy food, so picture that word in bold capital letters and then picture that in a bowl of beans and hot peppers (our CSA hands them out in bushels). While we hold up well to high levels of spice, this wine didn't quite match our tenacity. The wine's spice and cherry flavors were still present through the chili, but more was lost than gained from the pair, particularly in the finish. It may be more reasonable to turn down the volume on our chili rather than expect a wine to cut through it as is... that may be a task for beer alone (as the football gods nod knowingly). Our mixology missteps aside, we won't hesitate to buy another two or ten bottles as it is rich, full-bodied, and affordable. It simply makes for a lovely glass of wine.
So, my prize for today was this $13 bold and cherried zin from Thomas Henry (although, not-so-secretly, the bigger prize today was the Pats definitive victory over the Bengals for me and my New England brethren...)
Thomas Henry Zinfandel
Sonoma County, 2007