The Seriousness of Zinfandel?

You may have read Jon Bonne’s recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Is Zinfandel a serious wine?” If you did (or even if you didn’t!), you may have noticed that this article sparked a rather fierce debate in the aftermath of its publication; it seems the topic touched quite a collective nerve! If you didn’t see the original article, you can click here to read it.

I watched most of the arguments from the sidelines, content to enjoy all the kind words about Ridge Zinfandel that cropped up in the various conversations. And thanks to all for that!

But I did wade into one thread, and with great pleasure, as it meant I was among the comments following an article by Steve Heimoff. If you’ve read anything by Steve, particularly on his blog, you’ll know he has a fantastic knack for not only provoking great responses, but attracting an astonishing caliber of respondents. No disrespect intended to Steve, but there are times when reading the comment feed is almost more instructive than reading the original article!

Anyhow, Steve took on the topic of Zinfandel’s seriousness, and I eventually threw my rhetorical hat into the ring. I reprint my initial response below, but I encourage you to visit Steve’s site and read both his posting, and the 40+ comments that followed. You can find it all here:

As to my original comment, here ’tis:

I wonder if I might address the question of serious vs. fun (for lack of a better way to frame the debate as it seems to be shaping up) by positing that one can be quite serious about one’s fun. I find that both Ridge, and Zinfandel, have fascinating histories specifically because of the way they have historically lived at some unique juncture point of high and low brow tendencies; when they succeed, they perform a marvelous integration of funk and sophistication, head and heart, technique and instinct.

Many if not all of our greatest artists throughout history were deadly serious about producing that which would ideally be entertaining to us; comedians who rehearsed jokes for 10 hours a day, composers who brought themselves to the brink of exhaustion at the piano, painters who drove themselves to the edge of madness at the canvas, writers who labored over every punctuation mark in every poem. As recipients of their artistry and dedication, we revel in the sensual enjoyment of their creations, be they light or heavy, fun or serious, playful or ponderous.

The point being, one can be serious about making a zinfandel that is flat out fun to drink. I am a proud employee of Ridge Vineyards because I think that’s exactly what Ridge does, and it’s something I wanted to be a part of. And we are certainly not alone in doing this. All the accolades, devotions, and praises evident in this comment feed alone attest to it. Cheers to zinfandel, and cheers, as always, to Steve for producing such effectively provocative writing. It’s serious work he does, but it’s alot of fun to read!

Categories: Wine Blogs, Zinfandel

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. Great post. I’ve been following the Zin debate for days, and must confess that my first thought is that “Serious” and “Fun” are not mutually exclusive…Love the comparisons to music! Spot on! In fact George Clinton/Parliament Funkadelic comes to mind! Fun music IMO to be sure, but few would deny the his musical brilliance, if not genius. Very well done!


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