Zinfandel grapes are among the most ancient and popular wine grapes in the world. Part of the original strains that have been made into wine since about 6000 BCE.
These grapes and ones related to them have been domesticated and converted to wine in Croatia for thousands of years. Over time, grapes and wine making made their way to the Mediterranean region where wine became the most popular beverage for thousands of years.
The Zinfandel grapes being grown today are genetically identical to Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag, as well as the primitivo grape that is grown in the Apulia, Italy.
In most of the world, Zinfandel grapes are made into robust red wines. In the United States, the grapes is converted to a semi-sweet blush that is called White Zinfandel. It is a high alcohol wine that is hugely popular in the US.
Tannins And Colour
The tannins and deep colour is reduced by peeling the grapes prior to extracting the juice. The skins are sometimes allowed a small amount of contact to give the wine a rosey colour, but are removed before it can flavour the wine. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, wine experts shunned White Zinfandel as tasteless and over-sweet.
Today, however, some wine houses in California are revisiting this popular style and giving it more flavour and character.
The Zinfandel grape is sensitive to ripeness. Too ripe and the wine is too sweet, not ripe enough and the wine will be bitter. It also varies depending on the region and climate. In cooler regions, red berry fruit flavours are dominant, but in warmer climes, there will be a more spicy and anise flavour.
The Primitivo also provides a strong peppery flavour, adding yet another layer of complexity to Zinfandel wines.
While the grape is still strong in Croatia and has made its way to Italy, it also represents 10% of California’s grape and can be found nearly everywhere else in the world: Australia, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, and Chile.
As one of the most ancient varieties of grape, Zinfandel provides a traditional and powerful flavour that is reminiscent of wines that were being made nearly 8,000 years ago. With the massive variety of locations, climates, and brilliant winemasters that work with this grape, Zinfandels can be a lifetime of study and tasting without ever getting bored.
Zinfandel Food Pairings
Throughout history, the Zinfandel grape has been a close partner to food. It’s bold face and strong flavours are able to easily stand up to spicy foods. The subtlety and complexity of flavours helps to lift up the flavours of bland or lightly flavoured foods.
It pairs well with most meats, particularly red and game meats. Spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, and coriander. Strongly and richly flavoured cheese, like Trentingrana and Bleu Cheese, can stand up to this powerful wine.
For vegetables, you should look for fruity and strong, such as red peppers, cranberry, beets, and roasted squash.
Zinfandel pairs nicely with Szechuan and Thai dishes, as well as Indian curries and Mexican foods.
The most important thing to remember about Zinfandel wines is that they are meant to consumed. This is a bold and lovely wine that can be used at every event and meal! Especially as it is summer time, this wine can be enjoyed on a lovely sunny day in the garden!
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