Zinfandel (zin-fan-dell) is a full-bodied dark-skinned red wine. The origins of the grape are found in Italy and Croatia. Recently, DNA testing proved the Zinfandel grape is identical to the Primitivo grape of Italy. If you’re a Zinandel wine lover check out some Primitivo’s!
Zinfandel wine is lighter in color than both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. However, although a light-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir, Zin’s moderate tannin and high acidity make it taste bold. Generally speaking, most Zinfandel wines have higher alcohol levels ranging from about 14% – 17% ABV.
When buying Zinfandel wine look at the % ABV noted on the bottle. A lighter Zin will have about 13.5% ABV whereas a bold and spicy Zinfandel will have around 16% ABV. It's also good to look at the elevation of the area as higher elevation = richer Zinfandel wines.
When you taste Zinfandel it often explodes with candied fruitiness followed by spice and often a tobacco-like smoky finish. The primary flavors of Zinfandel are Blackberry, Blueberry, Boysenberry, jam, 5 spice powder, sweet tobacco, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Gravel, and Star Anise.
What About White Zinfandel?
Did you know that White Zinfandel is perhaps the first American game-changing wine since sparkling Catawba back in the 1800’s…and one of the wines the put the United States wine industry on the map, contributed to it becoming as a major wine-producing country and the world’s largest wine consumer.
Back in the 1970’s The Sutter Home winery in California led the way with producing White Zinfandel when it found that its Zin’s saignee had residual sugar, making it taste good. Voila! A new wine to sell. Today 85% of the total Zinfandel production is White Zin.
White Zin is a perfect introductory wine for those starting to explore the wonderful world of wine due to its sweet taste and is lower in alcohol.
White Zinfandel is created through the process of saignee, which is the removal of grape juice from the must before primary fermentation to increase a wines skin/juice ratio.
The top producing Zinfandel grows in Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, and the Sierra Foothills. Old vines can be found in Lodi and Russian River Valley. Outside the U.S., the variety is grown in South Africa and Australia, where it has been bottled as both Zinfandel and Primitivo.
California is home to many regions producing award-winning Zinfandel wines, a few include Paso Robles, Sonoma (Dry Creek and Russian River Valley), Napa Valley, Lodi (Central Valley, Modesto), Amador County (Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County).
In Puglia, it’s not uncommon to find Primitivo blended with another local Puglia grape called Negroamaro. The style is lighter but can be very true to the Zin style.
Alternative names for Zinfandel wine include Primitivo, Crljenak Kastelanski, Pribidrag, Tribidrag, Kratosija
Zinfandel wine pairs best with Quail, Turkey, Pork, Bacon, Ham, Veal, Spices. Peppers, Sage, BBQ, Grilled Meats, Sausage, Ragu, Stew, and Smoky Food. The wine should be consumed out of a Red Wine Glass and has a shelf life of around two years. The average bottle costs between $10 – $15. Old vines and Napa Zins are around $20 – $25.
When buying Zinfandale wine look at the % ABV noted on the bottle. A lighter Zin will have about 13.5% ABV whereas a bold and spicy Zinfandel will have around 16% ABV.
Carpe Travel collaborated with Maia Parish to compile the grape varietal overviews. Maia Parish is an award-winning events producer, sommelier, wine judge, and media consultant. She lives in Denver, Colorado and likes to eat copious amounts of food. You can find her here www.linktr.ee/thewinemistress.