Odd Pair: Chicken Spaghetti and Zinfandel

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There is pleasure in life... and then there is guilty pleasure. You know the kind. The type of indulgence that you are embarrassed to admit to your friends and colleagues... certain forms of gratification best enjoyed -- ahem, how shall I put this? -- whilst alone.

For me one such delight is chicken spaghetti, a dish that I had never had before moving to the south three years ago and a dish that breaks every rule of the holy canon of Italian gastronomy (where I have been known to pray): overcooked Ronzoni long noodles layered with chunks of boiled chicken, drowned in fatty stock and then topped with Velveeta before being baked until slightly crunchy and browned.

What wine did I reach for to quench the thirst inspired by the sinful, delightful mass of savory goo?

I had picked up the 2008 Sonoma Zinfandel by Wine Guerrilla at my local wine merchant for less than $20, and I couldn't think of any better grape to pair with my decadent meal: It was clean and fresh, grapey, juicy, and fruity (think raspberry and red berry fruit), and it had very little tannin -- ideal for the soggy, mushy, savory flavors of the casserole.

Like "Napa Cab" or the Merlot so despised by Miles in the movie Sideways, California Zinfandel has received a bad rap in recent years as being passé or unsophisticated. I believe the reputation is more the result of market saturation than it is an indication of the overarching quality of these wines from the west, which tend to be earnest, plump, easy-to-drink, reasonably priced quaffers.

And after all, however much of a wine snob I may be, who am I to put pearls before wine?

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