Give That Man A Cigar

Fire up the grill this Father’s Day and celebrate the man in your life with a glass or two of Zinfandel, the all-American wine that was made for barbecue. This year, bring along a bottle of Cigar Zin to your patriarchal party.

This lush and fruitful old vine Zinfandel makes a bold statement on the patio or at the barbecue pit. The juicy aroma of cocoa-dusted blackberries offers an enticing invitation to taste the ripe blackberry flavors with a touch of pepper spice. A hint of tannin from additions of 5 percent Petit Sirah and 5 percent Syrah adds layers of depth and complexity. Cigar Zin pairs best with steaks, ribs or any grilled meats, yet its fruit-driven qualities also match up with pasta sauces, pizza, cheeses, hearty stews and blackened seafood.

The California grapes of Cigar Zin come from the Zinfandel mother lode of Lodi, supplemented with fruit from Mendocino and Lake counties. The handpicked berries were fermented for a week and then aged in French and American oak barrels for 11 months before release. The 2011 vintage is the first for the label that was relaunched in 2012 as part of a new partnership between Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits and Vintage Wine Estates. The label design bears a striking resemblance to a cigar band.

But Zinfandel isn’t only for men or smoke-filled rooms, nor is it merely a more robust version of its sweet, blush cousin. Zinfandel can present an array of elegance; its fruitful flavors and range of tannic complexity appeal to many who favor a dry red wine with more panache than pucker. The small, thin-skinned grapes on century-old, gnarly vines soak up the terroir of California sunshine and sandy loam soils to ripen early — and often unevenly — with intense fruit traits and high sugar levels. Warmer climates, such as Lodi, produce Zinfandel grapes with a blackberry flavor profile; cooler climates yield fruit that gives a lighter strawberry or raspberry taste to its wine. The grape’s high sugar content can result in some hot alcoholic blends, although food-friendly Cigar Zin checks in with a more moderate 13.5 percent alcohol level.

Celebratory in spirit and flair, Cigar Zin is a bold wine that goes down easy with food and fun. Better pick up a few extra bottles before you head out to Dad’s  — you’re going to want to serve it grillside all summer long.

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