Last week, the calendar said it was fall; the Florida weather said otherwise. But I was so tired of my summer whites — not the ones in my closet, but the sauvignon blancs and chardonnays and sparklers that had been refreshing me all these hot months. If I uncorked a red, I reasoned, maybe the cool weather would follow.
Well, I didn't exactly uncork it. The 2012 Plungerhead Lodi Zinfandel boasts, along with its Monty Python-esque label, a Zork, a cute plastic topper with a zipperlike thingy holding it to the bottle's neck. No corkscrew needed, just pull and pour (and easily reseal), but it looks classier than a screwtop.
Deep garnet in the glass, this zinfandel offers aromas of the varietal's classic bramble and spice. On the tongue, it's on the lighter side for a zin but has plenty of the fall flavors I was hoping for: dark cherry, cranberry, plum, vanilla and, on the finish, lots of spice, notably touches of clove and ginger. There's mocha in the mix, too.
Plungerhead, available at wine-savvy markets for about $15, is made by a winery called the Other Guys and owned by siblings Mia and August Sebastiani, from one of the oldest families in California winemaking. (The company also makes, among others, old favorite Hey Mambo Sultry Red.)
I drank the Plungerhead with a grass-fed ribeye steak, using a splash of the zin to make a pan sauce with diced shallots. The wine's spicy flavors would pair with anything from a fruit-stuffed pork roast to grilled chicken in a five-spice marinade.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor