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Thread: Brown Zinfandel

  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Brown Zinfandel

    Looking for something good to drink at Christmas dinner? Tired of wine, ale and spiced cider? Try brown zinfandel.

    What is brown zinfandel? It is bourbon or rye whiskey, diluted 2:1 or 3:1. I find myself drinking this with meals more and more often. Essentially, you dilute it down to about the same alcohol level and flavor intensity as wine. Why do I call it "brown zinfandel." Well, the ever-popular white zinfandel is zinfandel but it isn't really white (i.e., clear), and my brown zinfandel is brown but it isn't really zinfandel. Seems fair.

    Anyway, just tonight I took some Very Old Barton BIB, poured about three ounces into a 12 ounce glass and filled the rest with cool water. Perfect!

    Brown zinfandel is good with anything but is particularly good with grilled meats and anything spicy. It actually tastes a little like unsweetened ice tea.

    Next time maybe I'll add a twist of lemon.

    This is not really new. People have long drunk "whiskey and water," sometimes even as diluted as I'm suggesting.

    I know this may seem like blasphemy to some people, but don't knock it if you haven't tried it.

  2. #2
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    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    Whiskey highballs, and there are many variations. Recently I met the head of Compass Box Whisky, London-based, U.S. born John Glaser. He told me he sometimes likes to drink his whiskies, especially Aysla (a 50/50 blend of malt and grain whisky), in a wine glass with mineral water, 1:1 or with more water, as an aperitif. I can see this can accompany the meal too with more water though, as Chuck said. I tried the 50/50 version recently with Aysla and cold Evian water and it is very good. Whiskey is versatile in this respect, it can be taken neat, with water or in cocktails and tastes different each way. Highballs are where high proof whiskey comes into its own because you can pour the water high but still not over-dilute the drink. As far as I know, whisky and water are not traditionally considered an accompaniment to meals in any cuisine except in Scotland with haggis (and probably some other foods), and in England with the full-on country breakfast (eggs, bacon, mushrooms, sausages, tomatoes, etc.) now often served mid-day on a Sunday. Maybe "Kentucky tea" is a regional example in the U.S. I think the reason for this neglect by gastronomy is that whisky is, in relation to wine, relatively new. In time, whisky and good water will I think be seen as valid to accompany meals. Something of this sort has developed in Hong Kong and now prosperous areas on the Chinese mainland whereby cognac and water are used to accompany the local cuisines.

    But good water won't cover over a bad or indifferent whiskey, you need top-quality whiskey to make a good highball.

    Gary

  3. #3
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    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    Chuck,

    Wasn't Booker Noe known for a similar practice? I'm thinking he called it some kind of "tea".

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  4. #4
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    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    One of my old whiskey memories was watching an old WW II movie many years ago. I have no idea what the movie was. But some worn out (i.e., battle fatigued) British officer was fixing himself a drink. He put about two fingers of scotch into a tumbler and then filled the glass with water from a canteen or pitcher (I don't remember which).

    I also remember a trip to Minneapolis - St. Paul around 1980. Where I live in the deep south, we don't have actual bars except in places like restaurants and hotels. So, when walking around the city while my girlfriend was at work, I dropped into some of the bars - there seemed to be several on each block. Anyway, most of the patrons seemed to be hard working men and the drink they called for most often was "brandy and water", which I had never really thought about.

    While I have long enjoyed 3:1 or 2:1 whiskey to water, I may have to try your suggestion on one of these winter evenings. Fall is almost over.

    Tim

  5. #5
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    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    Funny that you ran into that, Tim, brandy and water in Minnesota. I have read that in most parts of the U.S., a highball is whiskey and water but in parts of Minnesota, it is brandy and water. Why brandy..? I think because Swedish immigrant communities in Minnesota would have known hard liquor as "brannvin" in the old country and so ordered "brandy" here and were served, quite naturally, the good brandy of California. In fact, as our friend Hedmans will perhaps confirm, brannvin isn't a wine-derived brandy but is rather the hooch of Sweden and Norway, a cereal-derived, vodka-like liquor flavoured with herbs and other things. None of this takes away from the fact that brannvin, like brandy, means "burnt [distilled] wine" but Swedish brannvin nonetheless is not like French or Californian brandy, of that I am fairly sure.

    This is what I infer, at any rate, from what I have read on these matters.

    Over to you, Hedmans and, by the way, do you like brannvin? If so, which brands, what do they taste like?.

    Gary

  6. #6
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    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    Yes, he called it "Kentucky Iced Tea."

  7. #7
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    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    I did try it this afternoon (I am off work several days during the holidays) and it was quite nice. I put about 2 oz of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve in a tumbler an probably about 6 oz of very cool tap water (it went down to 17 here, last night). No ice.

    And Chuck, it may be the power of suggestion, but the flavor was strongly reminiscent of sweet iced tea.

    I don't know whether or how often I'll repeat this, but it was an enjoyable drink.

    Tim

  8. #8
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    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    Somehow I missed this thread last month.. I've recently discovered the virtues of drinking Weller Antique 107 in this fashion, and it ranks *way* up there on my list of Saturday afternoon drinks. It stands up well to the water, and I almost think of Weller Antique as more of a premixed cocktail mix ("Just add water!") than a sipping bourbon these days.

    It's funny how I can be lukewarm on something neat, or even 1:1, but at 1:2-1:4 (whiskey:water) or greater, I can suddenly love it.

    Anyone have any other suggestions that work particularly well when "overdiluted" with water and ice?

  9. #9

    Re: Brown Zinfandel

    I remembered this as I was settling in to read the last 150 pages (2 hours) of my current book tonight, and I didn't want to have to keep getting up to replenish my drink -- so I devised a 50:50 conconction of refrigerated water and J.W. Dant (DSP-2) BIB. I found it very suitable, but it only lasted about 60 pages. So (I'm getting way too brazen with bunker backup!), I did the same with this spring's Stagg -- which showed the alcohol more prominently in the nose, but also made a fine drink. To finish the last few pages, I just sloshed (or, maybe it was me that was sloshed by then -- hard to tell ) a little water in some Old Charter 10yo from a real 'half pint' Louisville bottle. Very good to read by.
    Anyway -- good call, Chuck. This is easy easy-drinkin'.

 

 

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