Our Wine of the Week, Bedrock Wine Co. Sonoma Valley Old Vine Zinfandel ($25), is surprisingly light and refreshing.
Young zinfandels can often be brash, aggressive and tannic, but this one is delicate on the palate, with none of the fuzzy roughness that many wine lovers find off-putting.
The gentle silky quality is the first characteristic to capture your attention, but it is followed quickly by red raspberry flavors, right off the vine.
Those raspberry notes are buoyed by gentle clove and allspice tones with a hint of cardamom that, combined with 14.65 percent alcohol, create a suggestion of sweetness.
This perception of sweetness is a clue to how best to pair the wine at the table. Intensely flavored foods like anchovies, certain rich cheeses, oil-cured black olives, slow-cooked tomato sauces, dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and polenta will be among the best matches.
Chicken braised in red wine vinegar, a classic dish from Orleans, France, will go beautifully with this wine, and you can find that recipe at the “Eat This Now” blog at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
For today's pairing, I've taken inspiration from my own kitchen, where I'm preparing bread soup for dinner. It's a perfect match, especially when you cook the onions long and slow so that their sugars caramelize.
The black olive tapenade atop the soup is the flourish that makes the match so compelling, though it is not absolutely necessary. The soup is still delicious without it.
Bread Soup with Caramelized Onions, Tomatoes & Tapenade
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil (see Note below)
2 large yellow onions, cut into small dice
Several garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
28 ounces (2 small cans or 1 large can) diced tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen Fire Roasted
cup chopped fresh Italian parsley