ZoZo's Ristorante, Reno -- Wine Dinners that Get People Out of the Rut

Looking for a place to take your friends, where the food is good, the wine is well paired with the food, and it’s festive and reasonably priced? Take your group to one of the “A Taste Of…” events at ZoZo’s Ristorante in Reno. Located in the middle of the Moana West Shopping Center at 3446 Lakeside Drive, Reno, the avowed purpose of these twice monthly wine-pairing dinners is to “get people out of the rut”. They do a fine job of that, and for only $35 per person including tax and tip. “The whole reason we do this is so people can try new things,” explained owners Sid and Julie Ashton. “Our customers come in and often order the same wine over and over again; this gets them to try new wines and it won’t break the bank.”

The first pairing was a 2009 Ponzi Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley. This 40-year-old winery, located in Beaverton, Oregon, is internationally acclaimed for producing some of the world's finest Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and White Riesling. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi, a second generation family member, uses a classic Burgundian style in her wines. Luisa defines this Pinot Gris as "A floral nose with lime zest and green apple, the mouth is ripe melon, clove and citrus finishing with a perfect play between sweetness and acidity. " 13.6% alcohol. Nicely paired with ZoZo’s homemade white bean minestrone soup.

I personally love Rombauer Chardonnay. Call it my California palette or whatever you want, but its big buttery oaky fruitiness always pleases me. The 2008 Rombauer Chardonnay that was served with the next plate, a rock shrimp and artichoke fritta with red pepper aoli, had the classic tones: intense pear, pineapple and tropical fruits, balanced with creamy, toasted vanilla. Refined acidity and hints of apple linger on the finish. 14.4% alcohol.

I’ve been touring the El Dorado and Amador wine country recently, as part of my research for the book that’s going to be published in Spring 2011: Mountain Wineries of the Sierra and Its Foothills. So I was thrilled to see an Amador wine appear on my table. The 2007 Noceto Sangiovese has been called one of California’s best Sangioveses. Winemaker Jim Gullet notes that this wine is a "Chianti-inspired normale” Sangiovese that displays hints of chocolate with a fruit forward cranberry-cherry character. Highly versatile with food, and it compares favorably to its Tuscan forebears.” 14.0% alcohol. Paired with Lobster Cognac ravioli.

The 2006 Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, is blended with Petite Sirah and Cabernet Franc. The Earthquake label is part of the Michael-David family of wines. It opens with attractive blend of mild blackberry, coffee, cinnamon, and clove-like bouquet. On the palate, this wine is full bodied, very nicely balanced, smooth, and elegant. The flavor profile is a tasty mild black currant with notes of coffee, bacon, and milk chocolate. The finish is dry with mild fine tannins. 15.% alcohol. Paired with slow roasted pork.

It’s a fun experience: vines and tiny, twinkling lights weave throughout trellises, hanging from from the ceiling. Grape clusters and Chianti bottles cling to the lattice, and the foot and wine selections are always good.

ZoZo’s Ristorante, 3446 Lakeside Drive, Reno, NV 89509-4854 . (775) 829-9449 Open for Dinner seven nights a week and lunch Monday through Friday. On many Wednesday evenings, live jazz. Want to join a wine dinner? The menu and wine pairings for future wine dinners are on their website, http://www.zozosreno.com/. You must make a reservation for the wine dinner, and can do that by phoning or by sending an email to zozosreno@aol.com.
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© 2010 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of
The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in August 2010.

Watch for my forthcoming book: "Wineries of the Sierra and Its Foothills". Publication date early Summer 2011, Wine Appreciation Guild Publishing.

>>Send an email to Barbara (at) winebizpr.com if you want to be put on the notification list when it is published...

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