Thanksgiving is tomorrow and you have not thought seriously about what wine you are going to buy.

Panic. Same as last year. Nuanced, thought-out vino ventures are not your forte. You need a do-it-now, no-questions-asked, thank-you-very-much strategy.


Could there be a more iconic representation of hedonistic pleasure than a high-alcohol, vigorous, jammy fruited, low-tannin, ancient vines, heavy bottle, kick-butt California zin?

While your take-no-prisoners buddies praise your selection, zin also can zip in to please the tender palates who make white zinfandel one of the most popular and profitable niches in the wine world. Same grape pleasures manly men and dainty damsels. Magic. And affordable.

If you are simply rushing to the store and grabbing stuff, zin is your fast friend.

You can even claim you have yen for zin because you are patriotic. Zin is almost a uniquely American creation (save for that little factoid about the grape originating in Croatia). Certainly, zin found its home in California. Vines flourished in the 1880s because it produced in huge quantities, then hung in through Prohibition making juice for home-made wine kits, and now commands a solid market share.

Big zins soar to 16 percent alcohol and demand to be the center of attention. Pair them with bold red meats, or knock them back at meal’s end when subtlety is well in the rear-view mirror of your event.

Keep the white zin lightly chilled for the faint of holiday heart.

Tasting notes:

• Cellar No. 8 Zinfandel California 2010. Fruity black cherry, raspberry, vanilla, ripe fig, pinch o’pepper; smooth, Cal value zin. $10

• Cline Ancient Vines Contra Costa County Zinfandel 2011. Big jammy black cherry, pinch of pepper-chocolate, smoke finish, oaky easy drinker. $12

• Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel Mendocino County 2010. Nice nose; blackberry, raspberry, plum, cedar; elegantly restrained. $12

• Frei Brothers Reserve Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2011. Lusty, rustic, jammy, spicy; plum, cherry-berry; smoke, oak; pure Cal power zin; nice value for price. $20

Last round: Food is good. Wine is better. Food and wine are best. Happy Thanksgiving.