Zins Online

A few choice wines for summer, and where to find them

Visiting winery Web sites—to find, say, a good Zinfandel, which seems to go with any dish based on vegetables—is a good deal less frustrating than it was before last year, when a Supreme Court ruling eased shipping directly from winery to customer. Here are some informative and entertaining sites to help you find a wine that, despite its power, is often the red you want on a summer evening.

Cardinal Zin, Bonny Doon

Randall Grahm has long been America’s wittiest writer on wine, as well as the maker of offbeat wines that attract cult followings. Like his famous winery newsletter, written from his home base of Santa Cruz, his Web site merits Most Fun in Class honors (his biographical note is called “The man behind the curtain” and features his head bobbing in front of a green pipe organ with urns shooting flames). Cardinal Zin—“a rich, fragrant chocolate cherry bomb which requires no fire suppression equipment”—has from the start been one of his greatest hits.

Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, Ravenswood

Since its first vintage, in 1976, Ravens­wood has made itself practically synony­mous with Zinfandel, and was among the first California wineries to make people recognize the name of the grape and to change the grape’s jug-wine image (borrowing from Grahm’s punning tendencies, it calls its promotional cross-country events this summer the “Zinfomaniac Tour”). Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel gives a pure sense of the character that drew Joel Peterson, the winemaker, to a little-known and little-esteemed grape.

Amador Zinfandel, Tulocay Winery
Available from crushwineandspirits.com

Neal Rosenthal, a New York wine importer whose taste in wine and food I trust completely (his own site is madrose.com), calls Bill Cadman, who began his small and purposely modest Napa Valley winery in 1975, an “unheralded genius.” Cadman’s straightforward but subtle wines are the only California ones Rosenthal will sell. This is a ripe, powerful, high-alcohol wine—but like all good Zinfandels, it has enough acidity to cut through the jammy fruit.


Zinfandel Advocates & Producers is a nonprofit group for winemakers and “advocates” who love the grape. It provides ample information on Zinfandel and is sponsoring a seminar in Napa, July 7–9—called, naturally, the Zin­posium.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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