Jessica Altieri

Wine and Water Expert

Shut Up and Spit

Jessica AltieriComment

What better way to learn about Zins than from the Godfather of Zinfandel? Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery talked shop with me at the Walgreens flagship store in Chicago. This is no dusty pharmacy with bad lighting. Bottles of Cristal and imported cigars stood watch as Joel talked with me about his first tasting session—at age 10 with his parents the high-powered chemists who gave him this timeless instruction: “Shut up and spit.” He did spit and did not get drunk, and that early chemistry helped create one of the smartest, most genuine winemakers around. Joel sets trends. He makes “no wimpy wines.” Wherever he goes, me and my wine glass follow!

Zesty, jammy, just screaming for BBQ ribs and bonfires outside, Zinfandel makes its mark on dusky autumn evenings. In the case of Zins, the older the vines the better the body. Girls, take note of that. These robust red grapes improve dramatically with age.

Are you a “Zin Bitch?” Not sure how to answer that question? On a typical blustery, cold Chicago night, Christian Tietje invited me to a Four Vines Wine Dinner, and the question came right along with his invitation. This Zin Rockstar not only produces amazing Zinfandels but he’s earned a following of self-proclaimed Zin Lovers who wear matching Zin Bitch shirts. I joined the jammy, spicy Zin Revolution that night. Christian and his “mother-trucker” partner Susan Mahler make wines as sassy as their zealous fan club.

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