At the request of another user, I recently reviewed the 1999 Ravenswood Merlot "Vintner's Blend"; but as I did some research on Ravenswood, I discovered that their specialty was Zinfandel. In need of a wine to complement a recent dish of linguine and sausage, I therefore turned to this, the lowest of Ravenswood's three quality tiers.

I paid $10 for the wine, and I guess I got my money's worth. Despite the young age of the wine, the cork was relatively brittle, and I almost broke it. (I say "almost" because I am like 200-0 when using my waiter's friend corkscrew, and I was able to salvage the operation without breakage.) Anyway, this led me to wonder whether the wine had corked; I decided that, if there was any corkage, it was in the very early stages.

The color was a deep red with purple tints at the edges, but it was perhaps less purple than I had expected given the varietal and vintage. The aroma was quite pungent, offering up lots of pepper laid upon a background of light smoke. The spicy scents carried over into the taste, which was sharp and maybe a little too bitter. The wine could have used a bit more acid to counter the spice, or perhaps a bit more on the tannin level, but in the end it stood up well to the hot Italian sausage in my meal. I'm not so sure this would be a good sippin' wine, but everyone to their own tastes.

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