Thursday, August 17, 2006

I drink a 'bad' wine ... and learn a good lesson.

White Zinfandel
(Image from the Bacchanalians at Beringer)

A couple of weeks ago, my wife bought some Beringer White Zinfandel to surprise me ... and it did.

As longtime readers know, I like a dry wine, and red zinfandel is definitely a dry one. I therefore expected the 'white' -- actually, rather pink, what used to be called "rosé" but is now often called 'blush' -- to have the dry quality as well.

Unfortunately, for my tastes, this white zinfandel was sweet and undrinkable ... which didn't stop me from actually drinking it. After all, I'm striving for expertise, so even a bad wine can do good service as a bad example.

Anyway, curious about this discrepancy between the red and the white zinfandels, I finally emailed my old drinking buddy and current wine expert Bruce Cochran and asked him about it yesterday:
[M]y wife recently bought some Beringer Zinfandel (rosé), and I was surprised to find it sweet and ... well ... bad. Surprised because the deep red zinfandels are usually fairly dry. Is this sweetness normal for a rosé zinfandel? Or is Beringer trying to get in on the unsophisticated Asian market, which still likes sweet wines?
This morning, I heard from Bruce:
As for the Beringer White Zinfandel, it's always been sweet. Some people in the trade call it a "bridge wine", meaning it's made from grapes (unlike Boone's Farm, etc.), but is sweet enough to appeal to those who haven't yet begun to enjoy dry wines. Most people begin with sweet wines and gradually move toward drier wines. I tell my wine class students that one mark of experience with wines is to know that zinfandel is a dry red and white zinfandel is a sweet blush. Congratulations, Jeff, you've reached a certain level of wine maturity! I'm sure, also, that you are correct about sweet wine being sent to Asia.
Interesting that Bruce refers to Boone's Farm wine, for it's some of the wretched stuff that he and I used to drink together back in our Honky Cat days. Beringer's White Zinfandel is at least not as bad as any of the Boone's Farm selection ... though not appreciably better, either, from where I now stand.

My ignorance about white zinfandels, however, implies that I haven't yet progressed very far along to path of wine experience, and thus don't yet stand where I should, so Bruce is just being kind and decent in congratulating me on a level of wine maturity that I should have reached years ago.

Which perhaps explains why we're still friends after all these years...



At 2:56 PM, Blogger Dram Man said...

For what its worth, do not run from White Zins like they are the plauge. The sugar content is totaly up to the maker of the wine. So there are some dry White Zins out there.

Its been a while, but when I was travleing through the central coast of CA there were a few smaller wineries making dry white zins that were quite good. The only down side is they dont get the complexity of a good Zin because of the short amount of time with the skin and short aging times.

Dont be afraid to try them again.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Dram Man. I'll keep an eye out for a dry white zinfandel. I just hope that the labels are honest -- after tasting that Beringer, I checked its label and couldn't find any clear statement that would lead me to expect a sweet wine.

I suppose that if I were really thirsty, the day really hot, and the white zinfandel really cold ... I might even try another shot of Beringer.

Minus any of those three conditions, I'd go for a shot from a Derringer, instead, and get it all over with...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:44 PM, Blogger Wonderdog said...

So you'd shun the Beringer, take the Derringer, go to a room and "there injure" yourself?

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a white zinfandel given to me by my wife, too, , and I also found it pretty undrinkable. Well, it was actually supposed to be a gift from her and me to her parents, but her father doesn't drink, and her mother didn't particularly like it. She was pregnant at the time, and thus the burden fell to me to try to drink a wine that was much too sweet and watery.

At 4:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Wonderdog, better to take the Derringer, go to a room, and "there injure" myself than to take the Beringer and "there inure" myself.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nathan, I guess that we both learned a lesson ... about Beringer's White Zinfandel, at least.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:10 AM, Anonymous PK Chua said...

I had a 3/4 Zinfandel wine from the USA and it was one of my worst. It was so bad that I had a hang over and I had to sleep in my toilet the whole night as I kept on wanna puke.....I keep telling this story to my students in my wine lessons to becareful with wines that they first time trying....esp cheap wines....

At 4:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Your experience is even worse than mine! You have my sympathy . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:52 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

What is the aging of beringer white zinfandel

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I do not think aging plays a role in white wines. Sweetness does, but I do not like sweet wines.

Jeffery Hodges

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