There's been a hint of fall in the air lately -- cooler temperatures that make me start thinking about stews, soups and big pots of chili. Chili and beer are, of course, a heaven-made match. --- However, I suggest straying a bit out of the box and trying this excellent Zinfandel the next time you face off with a steaming bowl of chili con carne: St. Francis 2008 "Old Vines" Zinfandel 2008 ($21.53).
This Sonoma Zin might be a little beyond the typical booze budget, but trust me: It's worth every penny. Culled from vines that are at least 50 and often over 100 years old, St. Francis "Old Vines" Zinfandel is a big, bold, high alcohol (15.5%) Old World-style red that bursts with ripe black cherry and licorice flavors. It's an impressive, fruit bomb Zin -- the perfect juice with which to usher in autumn.