Friday, March 14, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Cline Zinfandel And College Memories

Recently I have been on a journey with The Winey Daughter and The Winey Hubby. OK, a few journeys. To look at colleges. Lots of colleges. And to take many college tours. LOTS of college tours. I can now intelligently discuss meal plans, dorm rooms vs suites, big vs. small, majors,  minors AND I can probably point you to the best pizza and/or taco joint at a number of schools around our nation. It's been quite a journey. (Still no decision, though. On her part anyway. I, however, have made my decision: no more outdoor walking tours until the temperature hits 70 on a regular basis.)

There was one journey we recently took though that I didn't quite expect. It came on a Friday night at a nice restaurant in a very fun city. The three of us had arrived in town for the next day's college tour and we were starving. The kind of starving where you order appetizers AND dessert. And of course, since I was there, there was wine. I chose a Zinfandel that night. And while we were waiting for the first of our drinks and eats to arrive, in they walked.

"They" were a very large group of dressed to the nines college students. The girls were in their beautiful dresses, the guys in suits and ties. There were high heels and shiny dress shoes and a few corsages and lots and lots of laughing. Our waiter mentioned that there was a fraternity dance that night and they were there for dinner before the dance. And there I went….right back to certain February night in the mid 1980's, when I was one of those girls. All dressed up for my sorority formal (Alpha Phi at Northwestern University, by the way) and greeting my date. It was our first dance together. We had met at Thanksgiving and had been dating since getting back from Christmas break. He was a great guy. (And if you are wondering, yes, this great guy DID go on to become the Winey Hubby!)

Alpha Phi Pledge Formal, Winey Mom and Winey Hubby, 1983
Yup, this is the dance.
Good heavens.
We were babies. 
But what wonderful memories the sight of those students brought back. The fun of deciding on a dress, of asking a date (OK, after the dance I am speaking of, I never even considered going to another dance with anyone else - and that still holds true 30 years later). The happy chaos in my sorority house as 40+ of us got ready for the big night. The obligatory panic when someone nearly always blew a fuse using one more blow dryer. (We lived in a gorgeous stone sorority house on a quad with about 8 other such buildings. Gorgeous, but old. Hence the fuse issues.)

Alpha Phi boat Formal, May 1983, Winey Mom and Winey Hubby
The Boat Formal Picture
There was the dance itself. Usually held downtown at a hotel. (Although we were also famous for our Boat Formal, held in the spring on a boat cruising along the shores of Lake Michigan.) The dancing. The music - to this day, whenever I hear Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" I will automatically flash back to the dance floor, at this point taken over by my sisters and I,  proclaiming "I got all my sisters and me…" at the top of our lungs. I made some of my best friends within the parameters of that sorority (not to mention my husband) and I keep in touch with many of them to this day. It was, and still is, just like that with them. I could call any one of them and share my joys and heartache and they would be there, ears wide open.

So there I sat, getting very sentimental. The Winey Hubby tried to get sentimental too, but fraternity formals obviously don't mean as much to guys as to us girls. (Plus, I'll bet none of the guys ever blew a fuse with a blow dryer. Although it was the 80's… nah. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.)

Cline Zinfandel, 2012, Lodi, CaliforniaAnd the wine I ordered? It was Cline Zinfandel (2012, 14%, Lodi, CA). I wanted a big old red for this chilly night, and I am a big fan of Lodi Zinfandels. This one started out with a nose of black cherry and black berry with a tough of dark, wet soil. The taste began with notes of dark Lodi spice and grass, followed by dark cherries and cranberries. It finished with a hint of mocha latte, smooth at first, then it hit with a little red bite at the end of it all.

This was not as fruit forward as some of the other Lodi Zins I've liked. It was a bit more oakey. I'd still have to call it very, very good though! The bite at the end of it all is what keeps it from being all silky and velvety. It's a bigger Zinfandel than I expected, but that was okay with me.

Buy this wine if you've got a big pot of chili, or pasta with a spicy red sauce to serve it with. Ditto steaks - ooh, it would be VERY good with steak. You will need to let it breathe a bit to calm down the oak (the oxygen will give it a touch of vanilla spice). Don't start any red wine newbies out on this one - especially if you aren't serving it with food. But if you've got a cold night and a long line of memories to get through, pour this and start sipping.


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