Happy National Zinfandel Day! For today only, we’re offering 15% off all bottles of Zinfandel in the store. Stop by the store, give us a call or shop online.
What is Zinfandel?
Zinfandel (or affectionately known as Zin for short), is a robust red wine that primarily grows in the vineyards of California. The grape grows best in climates that are warm, but not too hot. The fruit ripens fairly early to produce a juice with a high sugar content, and is praised for its ability to reflect terroir and the winemaker’s style and skill.
There’s also White Zinfandel, the light and sweet wine made from red Zinfandel grapes, but vinified as rosé, so that the pink juice of the freshly pressed grapes are quickly separated from the inky skins.
For many years, Zinfandel was known as California’s “mystery grape” and “America’s wine and vine”, but through the wondrous invention of DNA technology, it has been confirmed that Italy’s Primitivo and Crljenak Kastelanski, an ancient Croatian variety, are genetically identical to Zinfandel grapes.
This discovery rocked the wine world, as Zinfandel has a distinctly American heritage, dating back to the California Gold Rush in the 1850’s. Some were happy that Zinfandel was linked to a country with a storied wine history, while others thought the discovery tarnished its heritage.
Then you have articles like this that put the Primitivo v. Zinfandel debate front and center.
How Does Zinfandel Taste?
The primary flavors of Zinfandel are jam, blueberry, black pepper, cherry, plum, boysenberry, cranberry, and licorice. When you taste Zinfandel, it often explodes with candied fruitiness followed by spice and often a tobacco-like smoky finish.
Most Zinfandel wines have higher alcohol levels ranging from 14 – 17% ABV. Higher alcohol content adds an oily texture and a bigger, bolder body. Because Zinfandel leans on the sweeter side, it’s a great pairing partner with spiced barbecue dishes and curry.
How to Pick a Bottle
Pay attention to the ABV – A lighter Zinfandel will have about 13.5% ABV, whereas a bold and spicy Zinfandel will have a ABV of around 16%.
Pick the best region – There are great sub-regions in California that make great Zinfandel. The most popular regions are Napa Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Lodi.
High Elevation is the way to go – Look for Zinfandels from high elevation areas (such as Howell Mountain or El Dorado County). High elevation Zinfandels tend to have more intensity and richness.