Last week, The Rib and I decided to be super health conscious one night and have chili dogs for dinner. I even whipped out the fry-o-later and cooked up some Ore-Ida Golden Crinkles. The next step? You guessed it: I picked out a wine to pair with a meal fit for the fanciest and most discerning of “carnie folk.”
First, the wine:
2008 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Cougar Hill Vineyard, Amador County, California
We picked this bottle up a while back while doing nothing more than looking for a Zinfandel or two to keep around. Zinfandels (not White Zinfandels—you can see my thought on those here) make for great bottles to have on hand as they tend to be easy drinking and pair with a variety of foods. Why this bottle? It was: 1) signed (presumably by the winemaker) and 2) from the “Cougar Hill” vineyard. I couldn’t resist. Plus, how bad could it be? I know of Sobon Estate, but had never tried this particular wine.
I popped and poured this Zinfandel while I grilled hot dogs and fried French fries.
On the nose, I got black cherry, a bit of cola, a very slight chocolate, and a touch of some kind of spice. The alcohol was a bit noticeable on the nose right out of the bottle, but it dissipated fairly quickly. There was a slight “planty’ thing going on with the nose, but I couldn’t place what it was. Luckily, The Rib (who grew up with at least as many horses as people) nailed it down: alfalfa.
On the palate, this wine brought big, Big, BIG black cherry with a slight hint of cola. That “not quite branchy/woody/planty” thing happening on the nose was exactly how The Rib called it—alfalfa. Like I was playing Bonanza and stuck a piece of hay in my mouth to chew on while doing my chores.
This fruit-forward Zinfandel (would you expect anything less than forwardness of a wine from a vineyard called “Cougar Hill?”) evened out a bit over an hour (not that it was rough right out of the bottle). It took on a black cherry flavored Kool-Aid that had been made with a little less than the recommended amount of sugar character. Overall, this was a very nice and easy drinking bottle of wine.
Now to the food:
Chili dogs. The correct chili dog is made with Ballpark Franks (The Rib and I usually go with the Fat Free Beef variety), mustard, white onions, cheddar cheese, and Wolf Brand Chili.
For those of you not in the “canned chili know,” Wolf Brand Chili is the best chili ever made available in a can. Ever. It’s not the easiest thing to come by in the D.C. area, but I make sure to bring back a case or two every time I make a trip to Texas. Turns out, Wolf Brand Chili is apparently available online! So I can quit rationing my supply between visits to Texas—and save a bit of room in my pantry now that I don’t have to hold on to two cases or so anymore.
So I grilled up the dogs, fried up some Ore-Ida Golden Crinkles, and paired the plate with the wine. Did it work? Actually, it worked fairly well. The big fruit (and big acid and alcohol) on the Sobon Estate Zin held up well to the chili and mustard without clashing. It wasn’t big ol’ steak paired with big ol’ Cabernet Sauvignon good, but it was pretty good. I would absolutely pair them up again.
Even if you’re not prone to pairing this wine with chili dogs and fries, I’d say give it a try. It should pair well with any number “everyday” meals and drinks well enough to pick up a bottle or two for casual midweek sipping or to pair with almost anything. And at $17, it won’t break the bank.
Cheers from the Corkpit,