“All four elements were happening in equal measure - the cuisine, the wine, the service, and the overall ambience. It taught me that dining could happen at a spiritual level.”…………  Charlie Trotter

The clouds finally parted and let in the sun’s warming rays. The breeze was gentle; the air fresh and clean. Birds were even singing their praise to the beautiful day!  What was a man to do, but to answer his biological command to barbeque and satisfy a porcine preference?   I ignited the Weber propane grill and took out the thick-cut, bone in (for flavor) pork chops.  I cut a slit in the middle of each chop, inserted a slice of apple and a brandied cherry.  The chops were already marinated in cherry barbeque sauce, and then basted with a mixture of sauce and olive oil on the grill. Into a grill pan went petite redskin Yukon potatoes (cut in half, rubbed in extra-virgin olive oil), some green and red pepper, zucchini,  and sweet onion (treated the same but with a touch of balsamic vinegar), and given a grating of fresh black pepper with a little kosher salt sprinkled over the whole business.

So what do you think? Was it time then for the Chateau Petrus to be opened and allowed to breathe?  Not for this grill master!  No, the Wine Mizer’s wine of want at such a time is CigarZin.  Don’t let the name scare you away. There is absolutely no advantage to smoking a cigar with this wine. I sometimes think the wine would sell even better without that association, but it was introduced during the cigar smoking craze, and zins can be bold and powerful enough to stand up to a cigar’s taste-bud numbing affects.

CigarZin is made by Consentino Winery. The wine is 100% Zinfandel from grapes harvested in Lodi and Sonoma California, and the wine is aged for 20 months, mostly in American oak. In the glass, it is cherry juice in appearance and the cherry follows through to the nose, but with a scent also of chocolate. The taste offers cherry with a touch of black pepper, clove and cocoa.  It has medium body and, for my taste, a good mouth feel.  This is a fruity, jammy wine with black currant (cassis) undertones, all in good balance.  But it gets even better: my CigarZin was a 2006.  Most available today are from 2008 and 2009, and a better choice given the varying storage conditions of different retailers.  I’m fortunate in having good storage conditions. But the relevant point is that Consentino Vineyards, in having the option to blend grapes from Sonoma and Lodi, is able to deliver a consistently good, balanced product year after year. For most of us, the year is therefore not as important as it would be with certain other wines. CigarZin can be found between $18-$20 and is a wine you can enjoy by itself or with any barbeque. If you insist on the cigar, try a Romeo & Julieta Cedros Deluxe #3 from Habana, and another glass of wine. You’ll be singing with the birds.

............... Jim
* Visit for mini-tips on wine & food

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