The origins of California’s most characteristic wine were unknown until recently, when researchers traced the Zinfandel grape to vineyards of Croatia. While this zesty varietal has never achieved the cult following of Cabernet or Pinot, it remains a full-bodied, flavor-packed delight that pairs beautifully with honest food—from spicy pastas and aged cheeses to barbecued ribs. Among this year’s releases, the Beaulieu Vineyard 2000 Signet Collection Zinfandel is the most opulent and gratifying by far. A wild ride for the taste buds, the 2000 vintage is a heavily textured bounty of berries, black cherry, licorice, and chocolate bound together with a hearty motif of toasted oak—a wine to sink one’s teeth into.
Beaulieu Vineyard, 800.373.5896, www.bvwines.com, $30