I happen to have tried a red zinfandel recently that tasted great, in a restaurant.
In general, I can hate zinfandels, especially white ones, but I had an experience in the early nineties that tweaked my interest. I had my paintings showing up in Sacramento, a show put on for me by the California Arts Council. Big deal for me. A state van came and picked me and a dozen or so paintings up from down in Los Angeles. I invited a few northern california friends to it, one of them a class mate I met in my first class at university, thirty years before. We had kept in touch over the years and I knew her later husband from back then too. Anyway, they picked me up in Sacto, as they call it, and took me to stay at their home in Napa, where we got to late at night, say 11 pm.
Oh, my, what a house, an Edwardian? anyway big and lovely ramshackley white house, and my room had an actual feather bed and in a side sort of cupola, a table with a vase full of roses from the garden. Giminy christmas!
After being shown the room, we all gathered to talk a bit in their living room downstairs, and her husband asked me if I'd like a glass of wine. Sure... so he went to the cellar and brought back a red zinfandel from Amador County. I thought it was the best wine I'd ever tasted, not that I get around in high end wine circles or even have good taste buds, but, hey, it was terrific. It was from Renwood Winery, Old Vines Zinfandel, Amador County. The couple took me around to Napa and Sonoma wineries over about a week, great experience as I like them, and they knew a lot both about the area and wine.
So this is background for when Diane (of a2k fame) and I went out for lunch recently, we each ordered some wine, and I picked a glass of Terra d'Oro Zinfandel from Amador County, just because of how much I'd liked that wine from a lot of years before that was from Amador, at $7.00 a glass. It was good, very good. She sipped it and liked mine better than hers..
We did go there twice, I had the same glass of wine again, and I decided to buy some. Looked around and online I found a place that could get the first one, the Renwood wine of years before, now 2013, but for $19.99., and saw the price for the Terra d'Oro, 2012, at $12.00. but then there would be shipping..
I called what Dys and Diane and I have thought is the best bottle store in ABQ and they would order the Terra d'Oro for me. I got two, one as a present for Diane. I was disappointed, as it turned out to be a 2013, not 2012 and wasn't quite as good. Diane hasn't tried hers yet. Plus the price was, yes, 19.99, since they had to order it and bla bla.
So, what is the lesson for me and maybe you? Look in some big beverage warehouse type place, where they have lots of stuff and nose around. There used to be one in our area of Los Angeles that was a storehouse of goodies. At the time I still lived back there, I was nuts on trying out italian reds. Being me, I'd buy the ones from good areas but low priced.. some of those being from Abruzzo or further south.
Now I'm really cheap and just buy Livingston Chianti at my grocery store, swill of course, but I like even poor chianti. That splurge by me for the Terra d'Oro was unusual. We all have different tastes but if you play around at place like that old beverage warehouse in the Marina, you can zero in on what you like in the low range aisle, 750 ml size, and sometimes find good stuff, and then you'll have a mainstay.