Gnarly Head Zin with pizza.
Gnarly Head Zin with pizza.

T eri had a ladies’ night Thursday, so I decided I needed a man’s wine to go with all the masculine things I did: eat pizza and wings and watch football, baseball, The Simpsons and even Two and a Half Men. No wimpy wines tonight.

I had a lot to choose from because I love big, powerful reds. After careful consideration I settled on Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel. It was a great choice. 

Pizza and Zin in front of the TV watching the Bears pitiful quarterback.
Pizza and Zin in front of the TV watching the Bears pitiful quarterback.

The rich, dark berry flavors mixed with spice and pepper went great with the spicy wings I had as an appetizer while watching a Chicago Bears game I had recorded. I knew the Bears won the game, so it was great fun, fast-forwarding through the breaks while sipping the delicious wine and munching on the wings.

Before the Red Sox-Cardinals World Series game I had time to watch The Simpsons creepy Halloween special. It was clever and funny and evidence of why this is still one of the best shows on television.

The only misstep of the night was watching Two and a Half Men, which was recommended by my pastor. I think he must have wanted me to see how offensive television can be because it was loaded with stupid jokes about sex, bodily functions, cheating and lesbians. At least the wine was still good.

Then it was time for the game and the mouth-watering pizza from Giuseppe’s. Oh, what a combo! The wine was really opening up, with layers of flavor unfolding. The taste was rich, bright, vibrant, with lots of juicy fruit. I got tastes of sweet plums, black cherry, vanilla, toast and a little oak.

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin.
Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin.

The grapes come from vineyards in the heart of Zinfandel country in Lodi. The 35-to-80-year-old vines are head trained and have the Gnarly look that’s on the label. The old vines have fewer clusters and smaller grapes than young vines, but they produce intense, bold wines with concentrated fruit flavors.

It was a perfect guy’s night. Great food, great wine and great couch entertainment.

When picking up the pizza I ran into Rachael, an old friend from my newspaper days and she invited me to join three other friends who were eating at Giuseppe’s. Ah, if only I had known before I ordered the carryout pizza I could have had dinner with four beautiful women. Now that would have been a great guy’s night.

From: California
Winery: Located in Lodi, the heart of a great Zinfandel region, Gnarly Head’s property is full of gnarled old vines. The old vines were grown as bushes or free standing head trained vines.

The winery takes its name from these gnarled old vines, but I’m sure there’s also a touch of whimsy in the name. I think it leans on the way California surfers in the 1970s called waves gnarly when they were extreme and amazing. Then they began using gnarly for all kinds of extreme and amazing things.

The winery, owned by Delicato Family Vineyards, was founded in 2004 and is known primarily for its Zinfandel. It also produces Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a single vineyard Zinfandel called Gnarlier Head.

Authentic Red and Authentic White are the newest additions to the portfolio. The white is a lush and juicy blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Colombard, Muscat and Viognier. The red is half Zinfandel blended with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Syrah.

Cost: $12
Year: 2012
Goes with: This was a perfect wine with pizza and wings, but it would pair well with all kinds of foods. Burgers, ribs and steak come to minds, but I think it would be a good match with all kinds of meat on the grill. As the weather turns colder, Gnarly Head Zin should be perfect with chili and stews.

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