Zinfandel wine is almost exclusively produced in the U.S. It’s affordable and sweet, making it an ideal wine for those just beginning to try wine. Because so many new wine drinkers start with Zinfandel, it has developed a reputation for being somehow inferior to other wines. However, aficionados will tell you there are complexities of flavors and styles that make Red Zinfandel and White Zinfandel wine wonderfully drinkable.
What Is Zinfandel Wine?
Both Red Zinfandel and White Zinfandel are made from the Zinfandel grape that originated in Croatia. The grapes made their journey to the US—and ultimately California—in the mid 19th century.
Zinfandel wine takes on different properties depending upon the region from which it comes. Zins that come from Amador County and the Sierra Foothills are medium-bodied with fruit-forward flavors of raspberry and strawberry. Zinfandel wines from the Central Valley feature rich flavors of raspberry and mocha and are full-bodied. Napa Valley Zins are wonderfully aromatic and full bodied, with tasting notes of blackberry and black pepper, while those that come from Sonoma are spicy with mocha flavors.
What Is the Difference Between Red Zinfandel and White Zinfandel Wine?
Red Zinfandel (often simply called Zinfandel wine) and White Zinfandel wine are both made from the same grape. Zinfandel tends to be more full-bodied with a more complex taste profile. It is high in alcohol content, rich, and often described as “jammy.”
White Zinfandel is a light-bodied wine that is low in acidity and tannins and is typically dry to moderately sweet with low alcohol by volume. It has a pinkish hue making it more of a blush or Rosé wine rather than a white wine.
What Does Zinfandel Taste Like?
Zinfandel wines can range from light to full-bodied and are very fruit-forward wines. You’ll taste flavors of cherry, plum, or blackberry in light Zinfandels, while fuller bodied Zins can taste peppery and spicy with rich flavors of cherry, plum, or blackberry.
White Zinfandel is semi-dry to sweet with fresh flavors of red berry, citrus, and melon, along with just a whisper of nutmeg and clove zestiness.
What Are Some Zinfandel Food Pairings?
Because it is a rich, bold wine, Zinfandel pairs beautifully with lighter meals such as turkey, pork, ham, or veal. It complements any dish made with ginger, garlic, rosemary, curry, cayenne, black pepper, or saffron. If you’re serving Zinfandel with your charcuterie, be sure you feature bold cheeses such as Manchego or Trentingrana.
White Zinfandel enhances the flavors of creamy pasta dishes as well as pork, crab, egg dishes, and Asian or Creole cuisine. It’s also an ideal wine to serve with highly acidic foods like citrus fruits or tomato-based dishes.
If you haven’t tried Zinfandel wine, you’re in for a treat. Whether you’re serving Red Zinfandel with barbecued ribs or sipping White Zinfandel on the patio with your favorite fruit platter, you’ll find both wines heighten the flavors of a meal to make it even more memorable.