Zin the Spirit of Christmas

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By Terry Sweeney

On the chilly evenings that mark this time of the year, in order to get myself in the holiday spirit, I call on an old friend — a bottle of peppery, tummy-warming, ruby-colored Zinfandel. It pairs beautifully with turkey, or duck, or chicken and even more magnificently with all three at the same time in the infamous Turducken! (a turkey with a whole chicken and a whole duck stuffed inside it.) Zinfandel and Turducken are a match made in gourmet heaven!  I dare even Martha Stewart to challenge that culinary observation! Fry a turkey in your backyard and break out the Zinfandel and I guarantee you’ll have the entire trailer park eating out of your hand.

But Zinfandel is a magical elixir that for some reason has not always been that popular down in these parts.  Which is crazy because its smoky, yet supple dark cherry goodness, also pairs beautifully with that Southern staple, barbecue.

And talk about national pride — Zinfandel is as American as a wine can be.  Well at least that’s what everyone in the wine world believed for years till some nosey body did some DNA testing on some old zin vines and discovered it was from Croatia. Zinfandel may be the first illegal alien wine to have sneaked past our borders.  I don’t care.  I need it.  I want it and it’s not Christmas without it!

So when I was addressing my Christmas cards this year, I broke out a $25 bottle of the stuff that a friend had given me as a gift.  It was a mighty tasty 2007 Zinfandel from the Green and Red Vineyard in Napa Valley.  The vineyard is named for its “red iron soils veined with green serpentine” or so it says on their website. But more important to my palate was that it had a yummy dark cherry/raspberry silky feel to it with just a hint of the sage that grows on the steep hills on the east side of Napa.

Popping pieces of aged parmigiano into my mouth, I joyfully hum along with the Christmas carols on my iPod thinking contentedly that my rich friend cherished me enough to give me a bottle of this divinely spiced stellar wine.

That is until there suddenly wasn’t a drop left. Couldn’t she have cherished me a little more?!  Would it have killed her to give me two bottles of this stuff?!!  She’s a one percenter for God’s sake!!! Hey, it says right on the website you get 10% discount on six bottles!  Now that I think about it, I’ve been “Scrooged.” Now here I am high and dry and still have a  rotten pile of feel good Merry Christmas cards to address. I definitely feel a dark cloud hovering over my former holiday good spirits. I pity the next Christmas card addressee.

Suddenly realizing I don’t have their new address, I call my friends Lois and Frank in L.A. to get it. Instead, all I get is a machine.  I leave them a polite message but there is a slight edge to my voice. “Hi guys … Merry Christmas … it’s Terry … I need to know where to send your Christmas card … call me.”

“Really!” I say to Lanier “I don’t know why I bother. We haven’t heard a peep out of them for two years.”

“Out of who?” Lanier asks.

Me: “Lois and Frank … It’s been two years”

Lanier: “Maybe they dropped us.”

Me : “That would be the best present I ever got from those two …”

Lanier: “They’re both crazy.”

Me:  “All aboard the crazy train!!!  She’s the locomotive and he’s the caboose!!”

Lanier: (singing )“Craaaazy!!!”

Me: “Two self-absorbed narcissists that only care about themselves! I am so crossing them off this list!”

Lanier: “Amen!!!”

Suddenly we hear a tiny automated voice on my cell phone say “If you are satisfied with your message, press 1.”

OH SWEET JESUS IN THE MORNING — THIS WAS ALL RECORDED ON THEIR ANSWERING MACHINE!

I quickly press a different button to erase my message and re-record.

“Just thinking of you two like we always do this time of year. Merry Christmas.” Whew!

The obvious moral of this story is that it is better to run out of Christmas cards than wine.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

P.S.: My gift to y’all is this tip: The Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel for under $12 is my go-to Zin when I’m paying.  The bottle is oh-so-fab looking and it makes a great gift! But if you really want to treat yourself and your loved ones this Christmas, order a bottle of an exquisite Zinfandel from Chateau Potelle in Napa — one of the best Zins I’ve ever tasted (www.vgschateaupotelle.com).

Have a great holiday, y’all!!

Cheers!