I'm on the record, I believe, as belonging to the "anti-high-alcohol" party in the ongoing tempest-in-a-wine-bottle over alcohol levels in wines. I'm not as rabid as some, by any means (I like to think, in general, that "rabid" is not a word people usually use to describe me, whatever the context), but on the whole I prefer more finely poised wines than some of the bruisers I encounter in my tastings.

And, of course, Zinfandel is usually the prime offender. But the other day I opened up a bottle that Gus Gamba had given me of his 2004 Gamba Moratto Vineyard Zinfandel. This thing clocks in at 16.4% alcohol, which no matter how you want to measure it is mighty darn high for table wine. And yet it was easily one of the best Zinfandels I've tasted this year. Blackberry liqueur, licorice, mocha, exotic spice notes, dense—like black-hole dense—with flavor, but it somehow managed to be balanced, too. Spot on. Anyway, it was fabulous Zinfandel and I feel guilty for telling you about it since it's effectively sold out everywhere (it'd be about $40 if you could find it). But keep an eye out for more recent vintages, and remember that there are no absolutes in this bizarre wine tasting game. Funny how the absolutists always seem to forget that.