Learn about Zinfandel — taste profile, popular regions and more ...
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel is often thought of as California’s flagship grape. In fact it owns this title by having the ability to adapt to the states’ many microclimates and landscapes, producing unique expressions of the grape throughout. Zinfandel thrives in California’s Central Coast, as well throughout Sonoma County, parts of Napa Valley, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Paso Robles.
Zinfandel's story begins in Croatia in the 1400s when it went by the names, Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski. In the 1700s, it made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. The astute imperial nursery of Vienna collected specimens of the vine and acted as the source of its journey to New England, carried by George Gibbs circa 1829. Eventually, making its way to California around the Gold Rush of 1849, Zinfandel found its new home, parading the true American spirit. The modern spelling of Zinfandel first appeared in 1852 and became standard about a decade later.
Tasting Notes for Zinfandel
Zinfandel is a dry red wine, though typically forward in fruit. Notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, dark chocolate and licorice are common. Very ripe examples may express a dried fruit quakity like fig or prune. But Zinfandel grown in cooler, coastal zones often shows red fruit, black pepper and fresh herbal characteristics like juniper and menthol.
Perfect Food Pairings for Zinfandel
Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs or anything barbecued. More delicate Zins work with pork, lamb curry and even Ceasar Salad or Salad Nicoise.
Sommelier Secrets for Zinfandel
Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding, ancient vines tend to produce wine that is deeply concentrated, delicately perfumed and decidedly complex.
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Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from San Francisco Bay, Central Coast, California
Paul Dolan Vineyards Organically Grown Zinfandel 2019Zinfandel from Mendocino, California
Rombauer California Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from California
Robert Biale Vineyards Black Chicken Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel 2015Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Oakville Winery Estate Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Oakville, Napa Valley, California
Titus Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from California
Tortoise Creek The Chelonian Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Lodi, California
GEN5 Zinfandel 2017Zinfandel from Lodi, California
Day Sonoma Zinfandel 2017Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Michael Pozzan Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Oakville, Napa Valley, California
Day El Diablo Vineyard Zinfandel 2015Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
Grayson Cellars Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from California
Hendry HRW Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Eberle Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Santa Margarita Ranch, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Acre Zinfandel 2017Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Ghost Block Pelissa Vineyard Zinfandel 2018Zinfandel from Oakville, Napa Valley, California