Wine Wednesday: Dancing Bull 2009 Zinfandel

As I’ve noted before, I know very little about wine. As I do enjoy wine and I am a curious person, I figured perhaps I should make some effort at changing that. Therefore, I’ll be starting a series of posts called “Wine Wednesdays” in which I review a wine to the best of my ability. The wines I choose will meet a few criteria: 1) they have to be affordable; I’m not in the business of buying expensive things that I won’t appreciate in proportion to their cost, 2) they will be locally available, 3) I’ll be making some effort at pairing it with what is for dinner that particular night.

I’ll try to include some information on the type of wine in general and any tasting notes either from the bottle or a different authoritative source. Most of these wines will be chosen either because of a recommendation from someone from whatever shop I’m visiting, from Carolyn Evans Hammond’s “Good, Better, Best Wines”, or from Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys of 2012.

Today’s wine is Dancing Bull’s 2009 Zinfandel. Dancing Bull wines are all over the place and, true to form, I actually found this on the shelf of the CVS downtown for $7.99, which is about a buck under retail prices. It was one of the wines listed in the “Good, Better, Best Wines” (in this case, under the best category for its varietal and price point).

Zinfandel isn’t a red varietal I drink very often, so I thought it an appropriate choice for the first entry into this series. A bit more about Zinfandel, via good ‘ol Wikipedia:

Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatiangrape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Puglia (the “heel” of Italy), where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, and became known by variations of the name “Zinfandel”, a name of uncertain origin.

The grapes typically produce a robust red wine, although a semi-sweet rosé (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine in the United States. The grape’s high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 percent.

The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruit flavors like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone.

From the Dancing Bull page:

No shortage of flavor here. Blackberry, black cherry and raspberry mix with spicy notes of pepper and vanilla, making our Dancing Bull Zinfandel one of the best things to ever happen to barbeque. Originally introduced under the Rancho Zabaco label, our Zin remains a fan favorite for its bold, award-winning style. Pair this smooth, spicy wine with braised pork ribs and burgers, or try it with pasta in a rich tomato sauce.

Well, enough from the folks who actually know things about wine. What did yours truly think?

This is, as the description above states, a very “berry” forward wine. My palate can’t pick out the individual fruits, but they are definitely there. There’s also a touch of spiciness. At almost 14%, it’s pretty full-bodied. In my opinion, it’s a little too sweet and fruit-forward. I wish it was more dry, for sure. Between the fruit and sweetness, it’s not particularly complex and is a touch cloying. For $7.99, it’s not bad value, but I’m not sure I would buy it again. Even in the $5-8 range, there are better options out there, at least in my opinion. If you like fruit in your wine, though, this will definitely for you. The Party Source carries the 2010 version for $8.99, which I assume is right around retail.

A Night of California Wines at Final Cut Steakhouse (Hollywood Casino)

[Participation in the event reviewed below was provided to me free of charge. Samples of any  other gifts have no effect on any review written by me, except that I WILL review what is provided to me. – J]

The good folks at  Final Cut Steakhouse and the Hollywood Casino (Lawrenceburg, IN) were kind enough to host me as their guest for a California wine dinner hosted by Gallo Family last Thursday. I was intrigued for several reasons.

The first and foremost is that my wife and I desperately needed a date night. As those of you with children may know or remember, you don’t get too many romantic nights out when you have an infant daughter (bless her heart). In the immortal words of Donna from Parks and Recreation, sometimes you have to Treat Yo Self. The other (perhaps more legitimate reason) is that while I enjoy wine and drink it relatively often, I know next to nothing about it. I know I like red and don’t like white(though this will be proven incorrect later), I know I largely find bottles I like and stick with those, and I know I often pick bottles based on label art. I needed a primer and a five-course dinner paired with different wines seemed just like what I needed.

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