#WineWednesday: Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel

Food, Wine

White wine, corkscrew, dishes and flowers, on a white tablecloth.

Have you ever walked into a wine shop, took a look around and made a beeline for the nearest, cheapest bottle of Chardonnay you can find?


It’s because there are too many decisions and the guy behind the counter is eyeing you suspiciously, as though he thinks you’re nineteen and you probably do look nineteen because you didn’t wear make-up today.

Yeah, you’ll probably want to start hanging around my corner of the internet more often come the middle of the week.

Today, and every Wednesday for the foreseeable future, we’re talking vino.

We’ll talk with some pros who can teach us about wine, we’ll sample some wine, we’ll talk about the wine we’ve drank.

We’ll even talk about what happens when we drink too much wine on Saturday nights with our friends.

I’m kidding about that last part. Let’s just talk about wine now.

I am a white wine drinker, through and through. There are some winter evenings when red sounds warm and inviting and while I’ll drink it and enjoy it, reds were never my favorite, until a friend brought a bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel over to a dinner party.


Photo: Gnarly Head

Why should you drink this wine? If you’re lingering somewhere between being a white-drinker and a red-drinker, a balanced red Zinfandel is a great way to segue from crisp, classic white wines to well-rounded reds.

When should you drink this wine? It is versatile enough to pair with dinner but will stand alone during happy hour, too. It has a balanced blend of spice and fruit that won’t overwhelm you if you ordinarily find reds too heavy.

Sip on this when you’re craving aromas of blackberry, raspberry, spicy oak and jam with a smooth and juicy finish.

How should you drink this wine? Most reds are served room temperature, but for best flavor, serve this one slightly cooler than room temperature – after about 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

How long should I age this wine? Don’t be fooled into thinking that all wines get finer with age. Gnarly Head wines are crafted in a “drink now” style so they won’t get noticeably better over time. Drink within three years of the date on the bottle.

Food Pairings: Rich pasta or beef dishes will stand up well to this wine’s robust flavor. If you happen to pick up a bottle of Gnarly Head next time you’re at the store, try one of these recipes for a perfect pairing:

Classic Italian Meatballs from In Good Taste

Baked Rigatoni with Kale from In Good Taste

Big Bob Gibson’s Barbecue Ribs from Use Real Butter

Spicy Chicken, Kabocha Squash & Roasted Garlic Rice from Chez Us

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    March 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    How excited am I to see you are doing wine posts on Wednesdays!

    I discovered old vine zins in Napa last year….Gnarley Head one of the firsts I bought! I just tried Plungerhead Old Vine Zin recently and loved that too! Cheers!

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    Ellisha Caplan
    February 15, 2011 at 1:56 am

    I sent the hubby out to buy this wine last Thursday, and it is fabulous! We’ll definitely be getting it again. Thanks for the tip!

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  • Reply
    January 14, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    This is great! Looking forward to Wednesdays. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)
    January 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    this is wonderful. i am officially never missing a wednesday wine post ever. i need to learn!

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    January 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

    so excited you’re adding a weekly wine posting!

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    January 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Ah! That Zin is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES. And if you like that one, also try Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend Red Zinfandel. It’s $7-10/bottle depending sales and where you get it, but it’s awesome. Not quite as “jammy” as the Gnarly Head, but really good – my mom and I used to alternate between these two on a regular basis when we lived in the same city.
    Also, wine Wednesdays? I’m sold.

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    January 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I was a huge white wine fan in college, until I started going wine tasting and developed a passion for the more complex reds. Now I’m far more picky about the whites I drink.

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    Chicago Cuisine Critique
    January 13, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I love Red Zin. This label is one that always catches my eye, but I have yet to give it a go. I think you have now inspired me. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I also favor Reisling but you sure do make this gnarly look appealing

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    January 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    as a wino illiterate, I GREATLY appreciate and look forward to this weekly feature! (and I am totally a white wine girl too – riesling, preferably)

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