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Zin: For Holidays, the Hell of It, and Everything in Between

Recently, SNL Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers gave an interview in which he described his college experience as one of the most frustrating and disappointing periods of his life: “It was after AIDS, and before the Internet.” I can concur, having attended college during roughly the same time period. I’m of a generation that didn’t have nearly as much fun in our 20s as the ones that came before and after it.

I can laugh about it now, but I do recall having felt that sense of genetic-lottery despair when I wrote this story for Wine Spectator in 2006 about the Millennial generation discovering and embracing wine. As I thumbed through photos to accompany the article, all from the annual Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) grand tasting in San Francisco, I couldn’t help but ask myself, Who are all these good-looking people, tight bellies full of Zin and about to make some bad decisions … and what do they all know that I don’t?

The answer: Probably nothing other than that Zin is perhaps the most reliably tasty wine there is. One of my fortysomething Spectator colleagues at the time, who’s based in the Bay Area, told me that the ZAP tasting features some silly juice as well as some extraordinarily complex, interesting Zins and plenty in between – but that it’s too loud and amped up of an environment for conducting serious tastings. Which, I had to conclude, was the entire point. Zin is one of those wine varieties that lends itself to all occasions, serious and silly alike. And that’s exactly the thing to admire and appreciate about it.

What other wine is as incredible with a big, juicy piece of prime, dry-aged meat for dinner as it is with a Krystal burger at 4am? What other wine is perfect for opening while watching a football game on a lazy Sunday on the couch, with or without buffalo wings? Actually, do any wines other than Zin pair well with wings? What other red variety is pretty much always tasty above the $15 price point? What other wine has viral videos made about it?

Or, more importantly, what other single grape variety can get thousands of people – and even some persnickety wine critics – all in a room together, all at the same time, all ostensibly having fun? (Though, you never know, next year could bring a wild, biodynamic Mourvèdre festival with special guest Alice Feiring – that’ll be bigger than Burning Man, I’m certain. …)

And, for the record, I had one heck of a busy week, and I can’t imagine a better pick-me-up than a glass of Zin after I get home from work tonight. I know for certain that it won’t disappoint. Zin is called for on pretty much every occasion, or even the lack of one. Though it may get a bad rap sometimes from wine snobs, at the end of the day, wine snobs are in the minority. And everyone else is fully aware that quality, versatility and affordability are found in no grape other than Zin.

That glass of wine is also likely to bring some of that enjoyment I missed out on back in my 20s.