Beyond BBQ – zinspired pairings of zinfandel wine and food

Zinfandel, like most reds, goes great with BBQ and there was plenty of that at the Good Eats & Zinfandel pairing at Fort Mason on Thursday as part of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers’ 20th anniversary celebration.  But with zinfandel’s softer tannin structure and moderate acidity, there is a broader range of dishes it can be enjoyed with, from spicy hot to vegetarian to soups, even sashimi!  Fifty zinfandel producers teamed up with Bay Area chefs to produce mouthwatering pairings that kept throngs of fans crawling the venue.  Here are some creative dishes to think about at your next zin gathering!

Storybook Mountain Vineyards’ luscious Napa Valley zin carried the creamy texture of beef tartare with salsa verde (Italian parsley, capers and olive oil), topped with calabrian chile.  According to Exec Chef Pablo Estrada, the spiciness of the zin complements the chile.

Town Hall’s most delicious chicken and andouille sausage gumbo  was complex and hot spicy, adding dimension to Bedrock Wine Co.’s fruit-driven 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley.

Ridge Vineyards 2008 Lytton Springs from Dry Creek Valley gets a little more structure from the petite sirah and carignane that’s co-planted with the old zinfandel vines.  The wine was cushioned by a rich and savory beef brisket from Thermidor that Exec Chef Bruce Binn braised in zinfandel for eight hours.

Mazzocco Winery’s 2008 Smith Orchard Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley was very dry and savory, already making it a great food wine.  Chef Eskender Aseged Radio Africa & Kitchen prepared perfectly cooked roasted leg of lamb with spicy root vegetables, Lebanese couscous and artichoke essence, and a vegetarian edamame hummus with Idiaabal Cheese and Preserved Lemon Oil.  Both were spectacular with the wine.  Currently a pop-up restaurant, they are planning to open a permanent place in Bayview in June.

International flavors continued with Alebrijes Bistro preparing a Oaxaqueno Black Mole Duck taco.  The chocolate and sweet spices in the mole highlighted the fruit in m2’s 2008 Old Vine Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel from Lodi.

And the real nonconventional?  Gnarly Head Cellars 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi paired with Johnny Garlic’s (of Food Network’s Guy Fieri fame) Sashimi wontons!  Was there any thought behind the pairing, I asked.  No, they said, it’s always a hit.

In the true spirit of zin lovers, anything goes!