I like to characterize wines as masculine or feminine. What defines style largely depends on type of grape, where the grapes grow, and the result of the winemaker’s decision-making abilities. Feminine wines are soft and pretty. Masculine styles are bold and assertive. I do not characterize all wines in this fashion because it is not needed—typically, Zinfandel, Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot fall into this category.

What I have found is that drinkers tend to lean towards the feminine style based on several inspirations. They are looking for an alternative to the heavy-handed styles or they are relatively new to drinking and experimenting. That or they want a wine to pair with food. Masculine styles are just that—less esoteric than its feminine counterpart. The wines are usually limited in food pairings—bold dishes like barbeque and grilled steaks usually work best.

A decade ago, most Zinfandel would fall into the later. Masculinity ruled the shelves of the retail stores, and barbeque was on the “must-pair” food list across the nation. Today, things are changing. Zinfandel can be quite esoteric, soft and round.

The 2011 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel definitely falls into the feminine category. It is a pretty, soft and round Zinfandel with plenty of acidity to make it a food friendly wine, thanks to the cool 2011 vintage. The velvety texture is enticing and the addictive mid-palette of spice and tobacco leads to a long, mineral finish with a bit of plum and white pepper, likely attributed to the 16% Petite Sirah added to the blend.

This wine is versatile when it comes to food pairings—from barbeque to roasted chicken, you can’t go wrong. Drink through 2015.

Rating: Very Good (88) | $19 | 14.5% ABV

2011 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel