Sweet Things

Our wine columnist finds a state of Zin. Plus a coffee maker with a fresh new twist and a sundae that tops them all.

Our wine columnist finds a state of Zin.

Jim Hoggan’s Wine Pickssize=”3″>
California wine growers were probably disappointed to learn in the early ’70s that Zinfandel, long considered to be an American original, was actually descended from the old Croatian grape, Crljenak kaštelanski. But there are no other reasons to put “disappointed” and “Zinfandel” in the same sentence.

“Zins” – which the vine sleuths now know came to California with the Gold Rush in the 1850s – are spicy red wines made from grapes that love baking in the California heat but seem to really thrive when they also get to rest in the cool evening breezes that roll in off the Pacific. So even though the biggest Zinfandel vineyards are inland, in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Madera counties, the best Zins come from coastal locations such as San Luis Obispo or the Dry Creek and Healdsburg areas in the Sonoma Valley.

To be clear, I am not talking about “white Zinfandels,” the bigger-selling blush wines that also come from Zinfandel grapes. True Zins are hearty reds. Their high sugar content can deliver alcohol levels of 14 to 18 per cent, so you’re well advised to drink less and to pair the wine with some equally spicy food.

It’s easy, but unnecessary, to spend a fortune on a great Zinfandel. You can find a good bottle for as little as $20 (the Shenandoah Zinfandel Special Reserve Organic is exactly $20.01). Other great choices include: the 2005 Cline Cellars Ancient Vines at $27.99; the 2005 Peter Franus Brandlin Vineyard at $44.90; the 2006 Turley Old Vines at $45.90; and the 2005 Hendry Block 28 at $53.90.

My current favourite is the 2005 Kokomo Perotti Vineyards at $37.90. But don’t take my word for it. Talk to Dave Lancelot at Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie Street; he’s Mr. Zin in Vancouver.

Sundae Lovesize=”3″>
Sweeten up the supposed “cruelest month” of the year with Lumière’s new Hot and Cold Chestnut Sundae. House-made ginger ice cream, rich chestnut cream and crisp vanilla meringue are served together tucked beneath a chocolate wheel. A clever fusion of traditional and exotic flavours, this dessert truly comes together once it’s at the table. Pastry chef Bruno Feldeisen serves each sundae with a side decanter of hot chocolate sauce that brings the combination of flavours together as it melts through the dessert’s layers. $15 at Lumière, www.lumiere.ca

Grounds Controlsize=”3″>
Krups’s Nescafé Dolce Gusto brings café-style beverages home at the push of a button. Easy to clean, efficient and not too pricey, this funky machine brews cappuccinos, espressos or latte macchiatos using a multi-coffee capsule system – six different roast and ground coffee blends packed in prefilled pods. A manual control lever allows you to adjust the size and strength of your drink, while Krups’s Thermoblock technology heats water as required, ensuring freshly boiled water for every cup made. $249.99, Basic Stock Cookware, www.basicstock.ca