2005 Lodi Lapis Luna Romanza Shoup Vineyard Zinfandel: Fruity

you're not messing around when you bake a pork loin that's smothered in a habanero, thyme, salt and pepper rub and set it down, piping hot and sliced into thick slabs, on your dinner table. this is why you need a substantial wine to match the flavor muscles emanating from this dish. and here is where a funny thing happens: pair a medium spicy dish like this pork with a fruity zinfandel (87 percent zinfandel, 13 percent green valley sangiovese) from lodi, calif., and -- to me at least -- the sugars in the wine become even more pronounced ... almost too much so.

but sitting across the table from me was greg, who had the opposite reaction. to him, the sweetness of this lapis luna zin was the perfect match to the pork. he didn't mind how light this wine was, the paler reddish color it cast off in our glasses, or the way it lacked the type of earthy goodness i've started to really appreciate in the zins we've had in the past. maybe i've had too many rosenblum zins; maybe i've started to equate the lusciousness of that company's higher-priced wines to the way i think red zinfandel really should be.

but here's the thing: we've had two other lapis lunas, and both were sweet. given, they were both cabernet sauvignon -- so we're dealing with a different grape here -- but i think there might be something about the way that company grows and processes its grapes that impacts the way their resulting wine comes off in the glass. 14.1 percent alcohol.

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