Beringer Vineyards
Napa Valley, CA

Beringer Vineyards 1998 White Zinfandel Napa Valley, California, 9.6% alc./vol., approximately $6.00/bottle.

Beringer Vineyards and celebrated winemaker Ed Sbragia are better known for their high-end Private Reserve Cabernets, a staple on the wine auction market. But their White Zinfandel, which is actually a very light pinkish orange ("blush") in color, is one of the best values I've seen in a while.

At 9.6% alc./vol., you get an extremely high alcohol content for a light-colored wine. This is because a wine's color AND alcohol content are derived from the fermentation process, when the skins of the grapes are left to ferment with the grape juice after crushing. That's part of the beauty of the Zinfandel variety, its high alcohol level, which can reach 20% or more in a regular Zin - a port-like quality without a port's syrupy texture.

The wine's taste is full of berries, very crisp and clean, with a smooth mouth-feel. It is akin to a wine cooler, with much more alcohol. An outstanding bang for a measly 6 bucks.

Frank Marcopolos