Wine Blogging Wednesday: Put a twist into your holiday! Or celebrate a twisted holiday?

The Wine Blogging Wednesday prompt for December comes from Twisted Oak Winery’s El Jefe–

who naturally adds a twist to it. The point, he says of this WBW, is to come up with your own holiday pairings, and to have fun:

Pick any winter holiday or observance EXCEPT Hanukkah, Christmas Day, Kwanzaa, or New Years Day or Eve, and choose a wine to celebrate it! For purposes of this WBW, the holiday date chosen must be between December 7, 2009 and January 7, 2010. You may also pair a food with your chosen holiday and wine, but that is optional. Here’s the complete Wine Blogging Wednesday #64 prompt on El Jefe’s blog.
So my holiday was a Winter Solstice Santacon which we celebrated on Sunday December 20 with a pre-Santacon brunch serving a BBQ ham. I wanted to serve a sparkling shiraz but it was easier for me to conjure up 25 men, women, and children in Santa suits on bikes than a sparkling shiraz at any price point. I did have a “Biker” zin that seemed appropriate, a Poema cava and a friend promised to bring some sparkling wine and orange juice. So I left it up to the potluck gods to see what came: a bottle of Zonin Proseco which we opened as well as the Poema Cava which ended up on the ride with us.

But what I was curious about, what I wanted to open but didn’t, was the Four Vines 2007 zinfandel “biker” from Paso Robles. Not only was the wine appropriately named for a Santacon Bike Ride, but I was curious how it would go with ham, and just plain curious about it. I’m a huge fan of zinfandel in general, and I love what Eberle does with the varietal so much that I was a member there for a while. (In fact, I have a bottle of 1999 Eberle zin I just found in the cellar; I imagine I need to drink it up soon!)

And there was the fact that Wine Spectator had talked about this wine back in February and tempted me, then in December it showed up on the WS 2009 Top 100 list and my local wine shop had it–so I bought a bottle.

So on Tuesday night, with Wine Blogging Wednesday looming, and only a Zonin Proseco and a Poema cava to brag about in my Santacon post, I broke open the bottle to enjoy with the last bit of Santacon ham, and to imagine how it might have been on Sunday with the Santacon.

Now, we don’t usually drink $20 wines on a week night. In fact, on our budget we don’t often drink $20 wines. But I knew this wine was not going to last long at The Ventura Wine Store and I’d just got an email saying they’d received a few more bottles. I wanted to go for it and buy a few more but figured I’d best taste this one first, you know, to be sure…

Well it was FABULOUS! From my first tentative swirl, sniff, and sip, I was telling the Big Monkey, wow, this stuff is really good! Lots of nice zinfandel character and color: a nice deep cherry red,  nicely balanced, some dusty blackberry charm, some cedar, a wonderfully long finish.

Best–it was AMAZING with the ham. The spice and fruit in the zin brought out the spice –especially the clove and sweet smoky flavors in the BBQ ham. It tasted decided different with this wine that it had before. And what an great difference. When they talk about the chemistry of wine and food interacting on your palate, it’s easy to roll your eyes. The Big Monkey didn’t plan to have any wine at all; we thought he’d have some on Weds or Thurs when he’d be off the next day.

But on my insistence, he tasted it. And loved it, even though he’s more of a cab or cab/syrah kind of guy. He liked it so much that when I ran off to hear Dottie Grossman and Michael Vlatkovixh perform with my pal Jeff Kaiser sitting in, he drank up most of the bottle that we’d intended to save!

This well-balanced baby had plenty of structure and tannin to put down for awhile (but how long?) so I left it with the cap on to see how it would hold up. The last half glass on Friday night indicated  that by Saturday night it would be  a bit too flat and blah.

So really, the bottom line is, this wine hits the spot. It really does. It’s absolutely wonderful for a holiday dinner dominated by ham (New Year’s anyone?) and it’s forgiving for most sides.