American Coots
Our fishing companions

Those are two separate topics, by the way.  But they happened over the weekend and resulted in a lot of laughter and fun.

First, the Coots. Which have nothing whatsoever to do with wine.  The Wineaux Guy™ and I went fishing over the weekend.  My first time in decades, and we had a blast!  We went to a small private lake which has a resident population of ducks, geese, Coots, and miscellaneous other feathered beings.  The funniest of these birds – other than one cranky old goose that kept following me around demanding food – are the Coots.  If you frequent Marché Bacchus or Garfields or live in the Desert Shores area, you’ve already seen them by the lake. They have a slate to black body, a bright white bill, and the weirdest feet I’ve ever seen on a bird.  Anyway, a bunch of them spotted ol’ Cranky following me around and the next thing I knew, I was stampeded by Coots.  Of course I had to get a bag of duck food and feed the masses.  And although I didn’t catch any fish – everybody around us was reeling them in like nobody’s business – the beauty of the day made that unimportant. The next time, we decided, we’ll bring beer.  Apparently, beer is the magical elixir that will bring in the fish.

And now, the “wine.”  I usually don’t spend a lot of time tasting in the shallow end of the swamp, but this had originated as a practical joke.  I’m hosting a tasting for the Tex & Fritz Wine Club later in February, and the theme is “Pretty in Pink.”  In other words, Rosés!  I thought I’d slip in a White Zin and challenge them to differentiate between the wines. Who would vote for the White Zin as the WOTN*? These folks don’t spend much (if any) time in White Zin-land, so I knew I’d be throwing them off.  So I went into a local liquor store and found something by Gallo called “Café Zinfandel.”

Its color was darker and richer than ordinary White Zin, which led me – in my naiveté – to believe that it was more extracted than the everyday White Zin.  The $2.99 price tag should have alerted me, but I tend to be a purist and think that most winemakers are purists, too.  And this is from someone who’s actually tasted Arbor Mist. {{{shudder}}} The good thing is that I bought two bottles of it because I wanted to be familiar with the taste so that I could quietly chuckle while they were trying to figure out what in the world this wine was.  I needn’t have bothered. Let me tell you why.Gallo Cafe Zinfandel

The good thing is the color. It reminded me of a Tempranillo Rosado, so I had high-ish hopes. That’s where the good stuff ends.  There was a little bit of a frizzante character when I poured it into our glasses.  It had no legs to speak of – that was due to the 9% alcohol level which I missed since it was hidden with light type in a corner of the label. Nose? Kinda sweet, kinda meh. We both understood that this was a “budget” wine (that means cheap), and not to expect a lot.  Okay, so far there’s nothing that would keep me from serving it blind to the group.

And then I tasted it. Oh god.  And not in a good way.

It tasted like cherry soda that had passed by a wine barrel while picking up nuances of Skittles.  And the finish? What finish? You mean that nasty sweet musty aftertaste thing that it left in my mouth? That finish?

In a word, awful.  We looked at each other and shook our heads.  There was no draining a glass just to “get rid of it.”  The glasses were poured into the sink and that was the end of that.  Apparently it’s one of those new style of “wines” that’s for people who think that wine by itself is boring.  So adding in artificial flavors and colors apparently “improves” it for a nondiscriminating palate. Zin is such a rich and beautiful wine that the monstrosities like this Café Zin are an embarrassment and do absolutely nothing to showcase the true character of the grape. How in the world is this cherry-soda tasting concoction being passed off as wine? This is the kind of thing that totally ruins the reputation of a fine varietal.  Thank goodness there are great winemakers creating amazing wines from the deep, dark Zinfandel grape.

What I did after that is an eye-opening adventure and may make you think that everything I just ranted about is for naught. But that’s another posting.

Just stay tuned.  And remember that it’s okay to feed the Coots.

*Wine Of The Night

On the photo, the label is stained from a spill from a container in my cooler. My bad.

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