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Zinfandel from California

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What is Zinfandel?

Zinfandel is a red wine made from a purple wine grape of the same name. Zinfandel wine is famous because it is bursting with blackberry, cherry, and vanilla notes, along with bright acidity and smooth tannins. Zin is easy to drink and easy to love. For any wine to be labeled as 'Zinfandel' it must be made up of at least 75% Zinfandel grapes.

What kind of wine is Zinfandel?

Zinfandel is an extremely popular grape that makes red wines, port wine style wines, as well as a sweeter pink rosé wine that is known as White Zinfandel. While Zinfandel grapes are red or purple in color, this grape is classified as a black grape. When you see the word 'Zinfandel' on its own on a wine bottle, that is a clue to the consumer that the wine is most likely a dry, red wine.

What is the origin of the Zinfandel grape?

America is the only country where people make a wine called Zinfandel. But scientists discovered that the Zinfandel grape is originally from Croatia. Zinfandel is identical to the Primitivo grape from Italy's Puglia region. Both Zin and Primitivo are clones of the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski. No one knows who brought Zinfandel vines to California and planted them there in the 1880s, but the general consensus is that we're happy they did!

Is Zinfandel white or red wine?

The Zinfandel grape is naturally red or purple, so it used to make bold red wines. But it's possible to make Zinfandel Rosé or even white wines from red grapes like Zinfandel by removing the skins during the winemaking process, which leads to creating the blush wine known as White Zinfandel.

How would you describe Zinfandel?

While Zinfandel tastes bold, in actuality, it is an easy-drinking, fruity wine that's full of blackberry, ripe cherry, and plum flavors along with spice notes of licorice and vanilla. Zinfandel has low to moderate tannins and acidity, so the wine tastes smooth and is easy to pair with foods like steak or barbecue.

Is Zinfandel Italian?

Zinfandel isn't Italian, but it's popular in Southern Italy, where Primitivo makes wines that have more fruit flavors and higher alcohol than typical Italian red wines. And in California, Zinfandel vineyards were planted in the late 1800s by settlers, which included many Italian immigrants. Some of those same vines in areas like Lodi and Amador county are still producing grapes for highly prized old vine Zinfandels.

Do you chill red Zinfandel?

Yes, serving red Zinfandel wine just slightly chilled will help it taste more smooth compared to drinking it at room temperature. Red wines are typically served at 56 or 57 degrees Fahrenheit, which is also known as cellar temperature. To chill a Zinfandel to the right temperature, simply place a bottle in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving, take it out and pour into a proper wine glass.

Not sure the proper glass for Zinfandel wine? Visit our Guide to Wine Glasses to learn the quick tips for wine tasting success!

What does Zinfandel pair with?

Zinfandel is a fruity, full-flavored wine, and it pairs with dishes that have lots of flavors. Think tomato-based pasta, eggplant moussaka, roasted turkey, Italian sausages, grilled mushrooms, meat lover's pizza, and barbecue.

What's the difference between Zinfandel and White Zinfandel?

Both White Zin and [Red] Zinfandel wines start with the same grape. Red Zinfandel gets its color from the red (or purple) grape skins, while White Zinfandel is produced with minimal skin contact when switching from crushing the grapes to the fermentation process, so the wine stays pink and lighter in color.

In California, White Zinfandel is so popular that winemakers make six bottles of White Zin for every one bottle of red Zinfandel. If you're curious about White Zinfandel, check out our selection of refreshing and lightly sweet White Zins from Lodi, Paso Robles, Sonoma, and Napa Valley.

What does Old Vine Zinfandel mean?

The answer is in the name! The term 'Old Vine Zinfandel' merely refers to very old vines, generally 30 to 40 years old, being used to produce the grapes for that bottle of wine.

As some vineyards in California have been around for well over 100 years, many of the Zinfandel vines there are still producing quality grapes that can be used to create today's wine. These 'old vines' are the vines growing the grapes used in producing Old Vine Zinfandel.

How do you serve Zinfandel?

Like other red wines, Zinfandel tastes best when it's slightly chilled. Just put your bottle in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving, and it will be at the right temperature.

Is Zinfandel a Rosé?

Zinfandel is a purple wine grape that can make a variety of wine styles, including red wine and a pink or Rosé wine. The pink version of Zinfandel is known as White Zinfandel.

Is red Zinfandel dry or sweet?

The winemaker controls the level of sweetness during the winemaking process. But most Zinfandels are dry or slightly sweet.

How is Zinfandel made?

Just like all wine, Zinfandel starts with Zin grapes that are tended to until they're ripe. Then the grapes are harvested, and the juice is fermented, aged in oak barrels, and finally blended to create wine.

Here's a detailed description of how Zin in made:

  1. The winemaking process starts with picking grapes at the right time when they are sweet with mature tannins and, with ample acidity that gives the wine freshness.
  2. The stems are removed from the grape clusters, and then the grapes, juice, and seeds go into a large tank for cold soaking. The tannin, flavor, and color in red wine all come from the grape's skin.
  3. Next, yeast is added to start fermentation. As the yeast eats the sugar in the Zinfandel juice, it converts the sugar into alcohol. As it ferments, the grape juice gets warm and bubbly because of the heat and carbon dioxide gas released during the process.
  4. Once the fermentation is over, the grape skins are pressed, and the new Zinfandel wine is transferred to barrels for aging. Aging in an oak barrel allows the flavor, aroma, and texture of the young wine to improve and mature. The barrel also can contribute subtle flavors such as vanilla, bittersweet cocoa, or coffee to the finished wine. When the winemaker decides the wine has aged long enough, he perfects the final blend and then bottles the Zinfandel.

What are the popular brands of Zinfandel?

Total Wine & More carries all the best Zinfandel wine brands. With such a wide selection, you can be sure to find a bottle to take home and enjoy.

Some of our most popular brands of Zinfandel include:

Browse our full selection of Zinfandel on our website, or the Total Wine Mobile App, wines and pick up a few bottles of the best red Zinfandel wines.

Want to know more about Zinfandel and other red wines? Explore our Guide to Zinfandel wine and learn about amazing Zins from California and around the world.