While drinking my Margarita at Bodega Wine bar last night, I heard an exchange between a customer and the bartender that I think means our taste in wines has evolved, but maybe not.
The customer ordered two glasses of White Zinfandel. The bartender said they didn’t have White Zinfandel. Would he like Red Zinfandel? The customer said that would be fine.
Okay, now, White Zinfandel might still be the most popular wine in the United States. It certainly was up until a few years ago. Maybe Chardonnay passed it at that point. I don’t know.
Still, it’s not that surprising that a bartender in a fancy wine bar would either feign ignorance of the stuff or actually not know that White Zinfandel and Red Zinfandel have nothing in common when it comes to taste. It's especially unsurprising in a bar where, I later learned, the only Pinot Grigio available was the least expensive wine by the glass on the list, and thus shunned by customers lest they be considered cheap.
I’m pretty sure Pinot Grigio is gaining popularity in the United States faster than any other varietal. Indeed, in recent years, people ordering a “Pinot” might very well find themselves with a Pinot Grigio instead of a Pinot Noir.
Pinot Grigios tend to be mild, inoffensive, straightforward, easy-to-drink wines and are therefore disdained by most wine cognoscenti.
Back to Zinfandels, red ones tend to be big, fruity, spicy affairs. White Zinfandels are actually pink, quite sweet, and completely out of fashion. They are responsible for giving Rosés a bad name in the United States.
The guy who ordered a white Zinfandel and settled on a red one was in for a surprise, but he didn't come back to complain. I guess he and his companion just wanted something to drink.