Pairing Wine With 1980s Action TV Shows CHiPs


Before anyone freaks out… CHiPs' run from the fall of 1977 through the spring of 1983 means that 3.5 of the show’s 6 seasons were in the 1980s. It fits, but barely, but I’m going with it.

Ah, CHiPs. I never watched this show during its original run. But it quickly found a home in syndication, and throughout my childhood I would join Officers Jon Baker and Francis “Ponch” Poncherello as often as possible. Maybe it was the fact that the show was set in California–and obviously so, because my childhood brain did not put it together that many of my favorite TV shows were set in California—maybe it was, due to my elementary school’s D.A.R.E. program, that I had met a couple CHP officers in my few days.

Maybe it was just because it was a great action/crime show. And it had funny parts. I thought Ponch was awesome.

Its theme song maybe wasn’t the best—certainly no Miami Vice or Magnum, P.I.—but it’s still memorable:

So, to what wine am I pairing this classic show about two California Highway Patrolmen—whose radio IDs were Seven Mary Three (Baker) and Seven Mary Four (Ponch), for those of you participating in any upcoming bar trivia nights—who defended the highways of the great Golden State week after week?

California’s grape, of course. Zinfandel.

Now, zinfandel may be genetically equivalent to Italy’s primitivo, and to a Croatian grape I can’t possibly try to properly spell, even if I copied-and-pasted it, but neither of those grapes is called zinfandel, and the fact remains that zin is one of the grapes most associated with California winemaking.

Plus, that whole “white zinfandel” thing. But I’m doing my best to ignore that.

The robust flavor profile of zinfandel can actually change rather dramatically depending on the conditions in which it is grown. Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County is known for its zinfandel, and the zins produced in that relatively-cold valley have nuanced dark fruit notes and generally lower (or at least, more reasonable) alcohol levels.

On the other hand, Central Valley winemaking regions, like Lodi, produce a hot-weather zin that is bursting with red fruit, and which has alcohol levels that regularly shatter the 15% mark.

One grape, two very different California wines.

One show, two very different California Highway Patrolmen.

Zinfandel and CHiPs. A match made in California.

Some zins I can recommend:

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