Movie & Wine Pairing

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Sunset Boulevard Old Vine Zinfandel 2014
Lodi, California

Sunset Boulevard (1950)
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After seeing the film, Louis B. Mayer famously said that writer-director Billy Wilder had “disgraced the industry,” but few today would say Sunset Boulevard is anything less than a masterpiece. Its compelling portrayal of Hollywood is dark and unsettling, and it calls for a wine of equal depth and mystery. Pour a glass and enjoy the complexities of Gloria Swanson’s ageless performance.

THE WINE

Other reds may have stolen larger audiences, but Zinfandel (once California’s most prized variety) refuses to be forgotten. Inspired by the 1950 Paramount Pictures classic, Sunset Boulevard, this sumptuous, old-vine release is as complex as the character of Norma Desmond and is definitely ready for its close up. Hailing from Lodi (Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Region of the Year) and the stellar 2014 vintage, it overflows with rich blue-and-black fruit, enticing violet and subtle spice aromas and flavors.

THE GRAPE

According to 2015 figures from the USDA’s Statistics Service, Zinfandel is California’s second most-planted red wine grape (behind Cabernet Sauvignon) – yet it’s regarded by many as the state’s signature red. Originally from Croatia (where it was called Tribidrag), this wandering variety found its way to sunny Puglia in Italy (where they call it Primitivo), then later to the Golden State as Italians came seeking their fortunes. Regardless of locale or name, this grape is famous for being fruity and food-friendly.

THE REGION

Though vines have always grown wild in the Lodi region, serious grape cultivation started in this area of California during the mid-1800s. By 1900, a local newspaper declared that it was the region’s “growing industry.” During Prohibition, the demand for Lodi grapes actually rose. Today, Lodi declares itself “Home of the Zin” and holds a large, well-attended annual festival celebrating all things Zinfandel.

WITH FOOD

With its fruit-driven character and velvety texture, this bewitching Zinfandel is an enjoyable sip by itself. However, it really comes into its own when served with barbecued or roasted meats (think grilled flat-iron steak, pulled pork or even roast leg of lamb). Or, take inspiration from the grape’s Italian-American heritage and pair it with hearty pasta dishes or spicy pepperoni pizza.

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