As the days grow longer and the weather warmer, my grill starts getting a workout. In Sonoma County, we can grill out most of the year but, for the next six months, I’ll fire it up almost every night I’m home. It’s easier (with generally less cleanup), more flavorful and healthier, too. And when the weather starts getting really hot in August, grilling becomes a necessity.
I put just about anything to the flame. We grill lots of veggies: corn, bell peppers, onions, eggplant and fennel, brushing them lightly with olive oil. I like to smoke ribs and chicken, and fool around with various kabob combos. Fish on wood planks is a favorite, and my preteen son would demolish a steak nightly if allowed.
Once I’m ready to sizzle, I’ll open a bottle to sip while I work and then take it to the table after. The other night, pork chops were on the menu, and I generally like those with a Pinot Noir or lighter-bodied Zinfandel. The last thing I needed that night was a wine I had to dwell over and analyze, so I opened a Cline Zinfandel Ancient Vines 2008. It was soft and jammy and loaded with cherry pie and spicy, toasty flavors. Just what I was looking for. I rated it 89 points, non-blind, and best of all the price is right: $16.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Cline Zinfandel California Ancient Vines 2008 (88, $16).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among California Zinfandel.