Zinfandel, often shortened by its many devotees to zin, lends itself to colorful wine names. Cardinal Zin and 7 Deadly Zins, for example, have been around for a good while but now there's a notable newcomer: Zin-Phomaniac Old Vines Lodi Zinfandel from California (about $14 at select wine shops and big-box stores).
If you're not already a zinphomaniac, this beautifully structured red likely will convert you. It opens on the nose with really juicy dark berries and a robust spice edge. On the tongue, those berries resolve into sumptuous ripe blackberry and that nice spice edge is still there. Joining in are a hint of cherry, a bit of cocoa and a dab of cassis; the blend of flavors is full-blown and nicely rounded by soft tannins. The finish is long and satisfying, tapering to a mere whisper in a few easy steps.
Pairings will be numerous but our first thought was of lamb shoulder chops marinated in red wine and garlic and grilled. It went just fine, too, with the cheeseburgers we scarfed down as we tasted this provocative new zin.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.