A Tale and a Tasting of Four Zins


Ah, California’s Zinfandel.

Now, we are talking a red wine here and not the sweet pink stuff. Zin is a fun and popular type of wine that goes well with grilled meats, hamburgers and even BBQ sauce (that is not over the top hot and spicy).

Full of juicy, ripe and jammy blackberry flavors with hints of spice, Zinfandel can be compelling and invite you to dive right in and luxuriate.


Sadly, there are many Zins, which are not so good. Hard, tannic even nasty. These would be Not Good Booze.

We tasted a flight of four. Two are great, one is pretty good (with comments) and one is rather unpleasant.

The prices ranged from $4.99 to $12.99 per bottle and all purchased at Total Wines in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Listed In order of Price Paid

Canyon Oaks Zinfandel 2014 – $4.99

Full Review Here

Pretty tasty if you don’t linger over it. Our tasting protocol includes putting the wine in a decanter for 30 Minutes. The Canyon Oaks Zin faded away here. But, open it and give it a minute or two in a big glass or run in through an aerator as we did, then wait about 3-5 minutes. Bingo. For $4.99 this is a pretty tasty little wine. But not to linger over or to expect much if you save some for the next day.

Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 – $5.47

Full Review Here

This is just an unpleasant wine. This one is widely sold, particularly as a “price leader” in some restaurants; outside of pricing, it’s hard to understand why. But, this is not new. Vintner’s Blend Zinfandel has been the winery’s “cash flow” cheapie for years and years. No matter how we handled the wine, it was just off-putting. Walk on by this one in store.

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 – $6.97

Full Review Here

Gnarly Head’s red wine offerings continue to perform way about their price point. Their Lodi Zin is not exception. In the glass, lots of berry and spice with just enough round, moderate tannins to stand up to meats and BBQ. Rich in the mouth. A tasty Zinfandel at an amazing price, this one will please red wine drinkers. In a classy winery tasting room, sporting a restrained designer label it would sell briskly for $20-$25, right now.

Double Black Zinfandel 2014 – $12.99 ($11.69 Mix Six)

Full Review Here

This one is from the wildly popular Paso Robles area in California’s Central Coast Wow, another Zin that is so above the asking price. Great package, too. This makes it a wine that looks expensive and actually tastes that way. Juicy blackberry and spice flavors that are in good balance. This wine gets better and better, and richer, as it opens up. But, don’t tell your friends what it sells for. This is Good Cheap Booze.