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.
- Pinot Noir1980
- Cabernet Sauvignon1843
- Other Red Blends1544
- Bordeaux Red Blends1060
- Rhône Blends793
- Other Red Wine311
- Cabernet Franc172
- Petite Sirah166
- Tuscan Blends84
- Nero d'Avola35
- Petit Verdot19
- Touriga Nacional10
- St. Laurent10
- Alicante Bouschet2
- Pinot Meunier1
- Nerello Mascalese1
Starry Night Winery Russian River Old Vine Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
Artezin Dry Creek Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
Sebastiani Sonoma County Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Primaterra Primitivo 2007Zinfandel from Italy
Elvis Presley Wine Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Paul Dolan Vineyards Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from California
Charles Krug St. Helena-Napa Valley Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Kunde Estate Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Clos du Bois Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from North Coast, California
Ravenswood Zen of Zin Old Vine Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from California
Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Clif Family Winery Gary's Improv Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from California
Artezin Mendocino Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from North Coast, California
Sextant Wheelhouse Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Kenwood Sonoma Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Bonterra Organically Grown Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from North Coast, California
Sausal Winery Family Old Vine Estate Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
Rancho Zabaco Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2007Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California