Bubo Old Vine Zinfandel: Winter’s Top Ten Bargain Red

by Bianca

So I shelled out the $6.99 and walked my talk.  I describe this wine to Tasting Table guests as Zin Lite, and I mean it.  That’s not necessarily an insult:  heavy 16.999999999999 ABV Zinfandel puts me in a coma after one glass, and, overall I see the wine world trending toward middleweight because it offers more complexity, longer drinkability and a much wider span of stylistic possibilities.

Think about it:  thickly alcoholic wines only offer a few flavor profiles–jammy, thick, rich, buttery, and possibly with afterburn that you can set on fire if you have a lighter handy.  Frankly, they also take you out.

In front of a roaring fire after plowing sub-zero soils, or throwing 9284384928349283 cases of holiday beverages, or recovering from an all-day snowboard session, wines (and beer) of this kind makes sense; losing consciousness might be your primary goal.  But if you want to, say, carry on a conversation at a holiday party, or finish that movie you ordered on Netfilx, or crank out a blog post, a softer style might be more suitable.  You still might want a little heat and spice.  You might also be broke.  This is definitely that wine.

I’m not gonna go all free-associative on y’all here.  I think this tastes acceptably like Zin, and having been in California at the height of the Zin craze, I have pleasant enough associations with it:  cinnamon, clover (mostly from the wood) but with a little blackberry and bramble on the back (and that’s the Zin).  My wine-snob internal self rates this as the wine equivalent of Velveeta or Kraft Noodle Box products–but you never lose your roots.  I refuse to let go of my impeccable white trash credentials, and I suppose this is my way of keeping it real with wine.

I’ve said it before in this blog and I stand by it:  I cut my teeth on cheap red Zin, and turning away from it now would be like acting like I didn’t recognize my high school crush in the company of my sophisticated current friends.  This is, incidentally, where I have come to admire beer drinkers:  the biggest beer snobs I know still enjoy a slumming session with Keystone Light or its equivalent.  Why do wine people act so apologetic when they lower their standards from time to time?  They deny they ever like anything else except their current obsession (or what’s currently fashionable).  Wine culture somehow forbids guilty pleasures.  Like real pleasure and guilt should ever be connected . . . .

This wine reminds me more than anything of the Hungarian stuff I wrote about last night.  It’s simple, unpretentious, and it doesn’t taste like someone tried to gussy it up into something sophisticated.   I find the Bubo producers to be consistent in this way:  they’re not reinventing the wheel, gentle readers.  By the way, “Bubo” means “owl” in Latin, and y’all know I have a weakness for all things philosophical (and an equal and opposite allergy to all things Classical Latin).

I still advise a dose of Ibuprofen and a little extra hydration . . . and B12 if you have it around.

If  you know what you like, I think you’re free to stop proving yourself in your aesthetic choices.  I’d rather my clothes fit well and suit my body than bear the correct brand names.  Screw that.

You can walk in both worlds.  Just because you develop more sophisticated tastes, you don’t have to act like you never liked anything else.