22 January 2005

Marietta Cellars California Old Vine Red Lot Number Thirty-Five

Don't let the long name scare you off. The Marietta Cellars California Old Vine Red Lot Number Thirty-Five is a simple little table wine. This is another blend--in this case, 60% Zinfandel, 30% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah. I'm not really familiar with the middle grape, but apparently it used to be a popular mixer for jug and table wines in the past. A lot of the zinfandel survives, but there's a tart edge from the Petit Syrah.

Quick wine tip: Tannins and stronger flavors come from the skin of grapes. The Petite Sirah is a small grape, so there's a high skin to liquid mass ratio. Mathematically, this may look odd, as all spheres (let's assume all grapes are spheres) have a uniform ratio of volume (4/3 π r3) to surface area (4 π r 2) unless you're willing to add dimensions, but grape skins are pretty uniformly thick regardless of the variety. So the size of the grape does make a difference in the intensity of flavor that will come from the grape.

So this is a hearty, tannic wine, purchased for $10. Food recommendation: I haven't the foggiest. I drank two glasses after spending a half hour shucking and eating raw oysters with hot sauce, but note that I drank the wine after the oysters. (If anyone cares, oysters need a very light white like a Pinot Grigio or a sparkling wine.) It's almost bitter, but not in a bad way--if you're a fan of India Pale Ale beer or straight unsweeted espresso, then you might enjoy the flavors of this wine. Though it's very bold and brash right now, I think this could survive a year or two of aging to mellow out. If I were forced to make a recommendation, I'd go for barbecue or your favorite pizza.

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