Your Ultimate Guide To Zinfandel Wines
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Long associated with California, the Zinfandel grape is the primary component of many food-friendly, deeply flavoured wines that are stronger than the delicate Pinot Noir and more approachable than the Tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. Zinfandel grapes are frequently sourced from century-old vines, lending depth and complexity to these approachable wines.

Zinfandel is a red wine grape variety that is the second most planted in California after Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape produces strong, fragrant, juicy wines with high alcohol content. Zinfandel was the wine of the miners during the Gold Rush, earning a reputation as the ‘Bordeaux of California’, but it fell out of favour during Prohibition. Zinfandel is not as widely planted as it once was, but the few examples available are high-quality wines that highlight the grape’s exuberant fruit flavour and complexity from being produced on old vines.

Origins of Zinfandel

Zinfandel arrived in America from Europe in the early 19th Century. The wine was an instant success in the California counties of Napa and Sonoma, which are still prominent Zinfandel wine producers today. Despite the wine’s widespread popularity, the grape's European roots were long unknown. Carole Meredith from the University of California at Davis decided to perform a significant DNA study, known as the ‘Zin quest’, to solve the question once and for all after decades of arguments and discussion over the origins of Zinfandel. The ‘Zin quest’ lasted from the early 1990s to 2002, when it was eventually determined that the DNA of Californian Zinfandel matches that of Italy’s Primitivo wine.

Because Primitivo wine arrived in Italy from Croatia, this revelation indicates that we may finally thank Croatia for Zinfandel wine. As we now know, the history of Zinfandel wine may be traced back to the development of wine itself, when humans began to domesticate wine grapes at approximately 6,000 BCE. The first wine grapes grew around the boundary between Asia and Europe, and the popular grape type swiftly spread to nearby sunny places, including the Mediterranean. These sun-drenched environments were ideal for cultivating flavour-packed grapes. Croatia has the first records of a Zinfandel-like grape, and by the 19th century, Croatian wine-making centred on Zinfandel-related grapes.

Suitable climate for Zinfandel

Zinfandel prefers a warm but not scorching climate. The grapes have thin skins that shrivel in the sun. Because the tightly packed grape bunches might rot if there is too much moisture in the air, a dry climate is ideal. While the grapes demand a lot of attention in the vineyard, the Zinfandel vines are tough and fruitful.

Flavour profile

Red Zinfandel is distinguished by its deep purple colour, medium to high tannin levels, high alcohol percentage, and medium acidity. While the red wine is medium-bodied and medium-dry, it is brimming with jam, raspberry, blackberry, cherry, plums, cinnamon, black pepper, and liquorice tastes and aromas wrapped around varying intensities of wood.

White Zinfandel is created from the same grape as red Zinfandel, but the skins are removed immediately after crushing. This results in a lighter-coloured, lighter-bodied wine with light tannins and a lower alcohol content. White Zinfandels are often pleasantly sweet, with notes of strawberry, cherry, and citrus. It lacks the bitterness but also the depth of traditional red wine, making it popular among novice wine drinkers.

Food pairing

Red Zinfandel goes great with nearly every type of meat. Pair the aromatic red wine with grilled pork chops or chicken. Red Zinfandel’s mild sweetness complements fragrantly spiced foods. Hard, savoury cheese, such as cheddar or manchego, is ideal. Sweet white Zinfandel is easy to drink and goes well with a range of savoury meals. Serve with spicy Asian cuisines, barbecue chicken, or hot seafood.

How to serve Zinfandel

When serving Zinfandel wine, it should be somewhat chilled but not highly cold. Before serving, Zinfandel wine should be chilled to 57°F to 60°F. To achieve this temperature, keep your Zinfandel bottle at 55°F. Pour the wine into a glass with a small bowl and a little smaller opening for the greatest Zinfandel sipping experience.