For many, the thought of staring blankly at hundreds of bottles lined up on shelves and trying to pick one special wine for Thanksgiving is stupefying.
To simplify your life, let's go along with most wine writers and stick with what Lodi is known for: bold, big-fruited Zin.
Plus, I'll slide down a slippery slope and suggest you keep within an alcohol range of 14% to 16%. Too little alcohol and you'll likely be missing out on the Lodi signature mouthful of jammy berries. Too much alcohol and you'll probably burn the back of your throat.
Ideally, you'd visit a number of Lodi wineries to try before you buy, but with only days remaining, I made a beeline to Lodi Avenue Liquors at South Orange Avenue.
I asked helpful store owner Balbir Singh to choose 5 Zins below $25 for those of us on a budget. Here are his selections: 2008 http://www.klinkerbrickwinery.com/our_wines.htm#2004oldvinezin" target="_blank">Klinker Brick ($17.99), 2009 Macchia "Mischievous" Old Vine ($17.99), 2007 http://www.lodivineyards.com/7deadly.htm" target= "_blank">Michael-David 7 Deadly Zins ($14.99), 2008 St.Amant Marian's Vineyard ($24.99), and - with 4 bottles left - 2007 http://www.vrwinery.com/?page=buynow" target="_blank">Van Ruiten Old Vine ($13.99).
"I've tried them all, and these are my favorites," said Balbir, who will give you a 10% discount on any of these through Thanksgiving by saying, "The Lodi Wine Guy sent me."