One way to chase away the chill of a cold December evening is to open a bottle of a big, brash zinfandel from California. Powerful and intensely fruity, these red wines often taste of concentrated berries, black pepper and spices. Old vine zins, made from vines that are typically more than 50 years old, are particularly known for their intensity and flavor. These robust wines are a great choice for hearty, winter foods, but be aware that some are high in alcohol.
Crimson Roots 2016 Old Vine Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
Bought • Aldi, 7369 Watson Road, in November for $9.99
Description • This zinfandel, which received a best buy rating from Beverage Testing Institute, is an example of some of the very good private label wines sold by Aldi. The grapes for this delicious, flavorful wine come from the Dry Creek Valley appellation, which is famous for its dense concentration of old vine zinfandel. Bursting with rich raspberry and blackberry fruit, Crimson Roots has hints of bakery spice and black pepper. It has an alcohol level of 14.5 percent.
Consentino 2016 Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California
Bought • World Market, 24 Brentwood Promenade Court, in November for $12.99 (with free membership, promotions)
Description • Grapes for this bold zinfandel come from Lodi, another famous zinfandel region in California. The Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel, which earned 91 points from Wine Enthusiast for the 2015 vintage, is a peppery and smoky red that tastes of black cherries and blackberries. Aged in oak for eight months, it has hints of cedar and herbs. Drier than the Crimson Roots, this savory zin also has a higher alcohol level of 15.5 percent.