Source: | August 8, 2013 | Photo credit:

Zin American Bistro, Palm Springs Ca.

Rating: 5 Stars

One of the most satisfying things about our wine community is that a savvy woman is at the wine helm over at Alicante and Zin American Bistro.

All of you desert foodies know well of Mindy Reed. This multi-tasking epicure plays Owner, Food & Wine Director, and “Somm” at both Palm Springs eateries which strive to provide the freshest ingredients available and go on to creative and inventive cuisine.

And of course we welcome the newly named Alicante(previously Zini Café Mediterrano) a casual and friendly indoor/outdoor café serving Spanish Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a large variety of hot and cold tapas.
We wine enthusiasts were ecstatic when it was recently announced that Zin American Bistro was awarded their 8th Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for 2013.

This major wine award recognizes restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections, appropriate to their cuisine, and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. They consider a list that offers a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.

The first time I met Mindy was in San Diego. A Palm Springs newbie, I was covering a wine trade event where wines from all over the world were being sampled and considered. At the Italian wine seminar I was fortunate to sit next to her. I introduced myself as the local P. S. wine writer and she introduced herself as the owner of two P.S. Restaurants! Was I out-clouted!

Anyway—I picked up on her credentials and have always appreciated her quest to bring great wine to the desert, and at the best of prices. (Plus—we both have a great affinity for Italian wine!—which she continues to carry a great selection.)

Ironic—I’d been over to the previous Zini Café many times enjoying Mindy’s cuisine and wine—it’s so easy to just glide off the sidewalk onto her bar—but I hadn’t yet gotten over to Zin.

Used to her casual n’ chic (Zuni) Alicante décor, I found Zin American Bistro to be Palm Springs minimalist design but stylish. There’s great outside patio seating for people-watching, and, the interior with its understated elegance made me think the meal prices were going to be a good bump-up.

But it wasn’t; very similar prices to Alicante with dinner entrées in the $20-$30 range. My bad—for not enjoying this place sooner. As reported in the Pampered Palate, we too had heard that Mindy had redone her menu, and, what a great opportunity to match some exciting wine to her new exciting food items!

One would think that every vino lover in town would get over here at least a few times a year. It’s such a treat to simply sit down at the wine bar or to dine knowing that you can grab at world class wines for such reasonable prices. Why not go to check out Zin’s list.

Simply having a fun time, we paired some of the new cast of menu items along with Mindy’s choices from a great selection of her “Wines by the Glass” list.

Enjoying courses such as, “B.C.T.”., which is a play on the classic B.L.T., a salad of crispy pancetta, fresh burrata, heirloom pear tomatoes, arugula, and sorrel vinaigrette; Lemon Crab Cake atop papaya and cucumber slaw, with chile aioli; Pan-Seared Sustainable Sea Bass with black and Fava beans, Jerusalem artichokes, and blood orange brown butter; and, Honey Roasted Half Mary’s Chicken (organic & free-range) with roasted new potatoes, sugar snap peas, and truffle jus.

The two chilled white wines that were a seamless match to all of the above plates were: The 2011 Alias Chardonnay, which carries beautiful citrus flavors balance against slightly softer tropical fruit and honey apricot notes; and, the 2009 Biohf Pratsch Gruner Veltliner [GROO-ner VELT-lee-ner] with a nose of grapefruit, peach, stone, and pear. Taste of lime and other citrus notes.

The Biohf Gruner was perfect with its nice acidity to complement our crab cake and sea bass. The Alias Chard with all of those citrus flavors really highlighted all of the fancy sauces supporting the meals. Tasty!

The Chèvre Burger prepared with Snake River Farms Wagyu beef and American ground beef, Laura Chenel goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and served with pommes frites, was a dreamy match to a glass of the young 2011 Chateau Haut Gay, Comtes de Tastes Bordeaux. Matching a Bordeaux to a hamburger—granted, a gourmet hamburger, is one of life’s guilty pleasures. Just do it!

And the Veal and Ricotta Meatballs with spaetzle and tomato sauce, are one of the best meatballs plates I’ve ever experienced. I would want this plate every time I’m there.

We relished the California Zinfandel Four Vines Maverick from Amador County. Mindy is also a Zin lover and quite often mixes the array of Zinfandel available by the glass. This Four Vines had both classic Zin fruit and acidity to match up with the dish.

Food and wine pairing is the real trend about town. Sometimes it gets a bit serious with the attempt to find that “perfect match”. At Zin American Bistro, and at Alicante as well, Mindy sees to it that everyone has a fun time mixing and matching a great variety of plates and vino.

Zin American Bistro, 198 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, Ca. 92622 760.322.6300

Bon Appétit! Cheers!

Rick Riozza is your sommelier-about-town conducting & entertaining at wine events & tastings. Contact