Gallo. Boone's Farm. Ripple. Thunderbird. Wild Irish Rose. You've sampled the best of them, and your quest has taken you to the far corners of your neighborhood, which contains a stratospheric 587 taverns and bars. Your digs, you warble, abut the epicenter of the world's cheapest and most abundant ghetto wines, the true test of which is how well they pair with peanut butter. Just your luck—your house also sits within pissing distance of a Jif distributorship, its ghostly neon popping and sputtering as you strategize your 14th tasting of the day.
But you know what? “Cheap” and “abundant” are hardly synonymous these days, with decent fare all over the place for not a lot of money. In fact, “cheap” and “rare” go well together, too, as in the 2005 Zinfandel from the Bargetto Winery, near Monterey Bay. The human beings at Bargetto have been at their craft since 1933, and they know something about rare, or so-called “artisan,” entries (those produced at fewer than 5,000 cases a year). The 2005 Zin is just such a suspect, and it has a rare taste to go with it. There's a distinct scent and sensation of deep-velvet jam here, which mixes well with breadsticks and lighter cheeses. And the only Ripple here is the ripple effect from the pleasant aftertaste.
The 2005 Bargetto Zinfandel is available at BevMo and all better shops for just $14.99; it sits among equally rare vintages that sell for more than 20 times that price. And come to think of it, it probably does go nicely with peanut butter amid its jammy flavor, in the tradition of America's iconic sandwich combo. That crummy ol' Jif factory's looking spiffier all the time, isn't it?