Uncork the zinfandel after you fire up the grill.
If red meat, pork, chicken or sausage is sizzling, try one of these big California reds. Top producers include Turley, Ravenswood, Ridge, Storybook Mountain, Martinelli, Robert Biale, Williams-Selyem, Rosenblum, Seghesio and St. Francis.
And consider two winners from Dry Creek Vineyard. The 2012 Heritage Vines Zinfandel ($20) is ripe and concentrated, loaded with blackberry and blueberry. The briary 2012 Old Vines Zinfandel ($30) is a bit more layered, and comes through with spice plus a harvest of berry flavors.
The 2011 Four Vines Truant Old Vine Zinfandel ($12) is bargain-priced and kicks in with enough plum, berry and spice to face your smokiest grilled fare. The producer's 2011 Biker Zinfandel Paso Robles ($18) offers more subtlety, but has cherry and plum to spare in a neat package.
As usual, the 2012 Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Estate Zinfandel ($25) is a bright, bountiful production, with pepperiness and ripeness: a delightful wine. The gutsy 2012 Decoy Sonoma County Zinfandel ($25), from the Duckhorn Wine Co., is a real mouthful, aromatic and full of dark fruit and spice, with traces of vanilla, too.
Announcing itself with blackberry, cherry and pepper is the complex, powerful, attention-getting 2011 Arrowood Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel ($42), a balanced, old-vine beauty. It's fine now and will be even better over the next decade, perhaps longer.
That 2025 barbecue will be fun.