Zinfandel, the third most planted grape in the US after Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, is a rich, jammy, intense wine variety that is well-loved around the globe for its bold and fruity flavors. Although a red grape, you can purchase Zinfandel wines in two varieties: red and white.
How I would describe the taste of Zinfandel
Zinfandel is known for its inconsistency of fruit and the flavors in it range depending on how ripe the grapes are. Typically, you will find beautiful juicy berry flavors such as Raspberry and Strawberries if the wine has been produced in cooler areas of the globe. For Zinfandel’s made in warmer areas, you can expect much darker fruits such as Blackberries to come through.
On the palette, Zinfandel is a full-bodied, fruit-forward, bold wine that often has an elevated alcohol content when compared with other wines. Although all Zinfandel comes from red Zinfandel grapes, two wines can be made from it including white wine (which is more like a rose wine).
You’d be forgiven for thinking that White Zinfandel is a white wine, after all it does feature in the name, but it’s actually a blush-colored rose wine. Invented by accident in 1970s California, White Zinfandel is deliciously sweet, and much lighter on the palette than many other white and rose wines.
It has a lower alcohol content than other wines (9-10% ABV) and has very low acidity and bitterness which makes it the go-to choice for many non-wine drinkers.
Red Zinfandel is typically dry, featuring jammy and bold notes with a smoky finish. It contains more alcohol than most other red wines (usually 14-16% ABV as opposed to 12% which is standard). It is incredibly popular worldwide thanks to its candied fruit flavors and smoky notes. Featuring mid-range tannins and high acidity, it’s a medium-bodied wine that pairs with an array of food dishes beautifully.
Why do people like Zinfandel?
White Zinfandel is often sweet and floral. It’s easy-to-drink, incredibly light-bodied and matches any occasion and food. The lightness of the wine means that many people enjoy White Zinfandel, including those new to the world of wine.
Red Zinfandel, on the other hand, is another story and is often enjoyed by wine connoisseurs. The high sugar in the grapes interact with the yeast during fermentation, producing a medium-bodied wine that is high in alcohol content and bolder than its white counterpart.
Who might not like Zinfandel?
Although Zinfandel is an incredibly popular wine, it’s not to everyone’s tastes. People that enjoy lighter, more refreshing red wines such as Pinot Noir may find that Zinfandel is too strong for them as they are used to less-alcoholic, more classic burgundy notes.
On the other hand, White Zinfandel may be classed as too light and fruity for those who enjoy drinking a rose wine that is rich in flavor, full-bodied and features smoky undertones such as a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.
How is Zinfandel usually served?
To make the most of your Zinfandel-drinking experience, there are a few hints and tips we can share with you including the best serving temperature, and the type of glass you may want to use.
It’s a common misconception to think that red wine should be served at room temperature. The perfect temperature for serving Red Zinfandel (as well as other red wines) is slightly cooler than room temperature, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any warmer than this can make the wine taste bitter. If you have a full-bodied Red Zinfandel, you can pop it in the refrigerator for up to an hour before corking and letting breathe for 10 minutes prior to serving.
White Zinfandel, on the other hand, should be served chilled – around 50 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Serving at this temperature will allow for a more enjoyable drinking experience and will prevent the wine from coming across on the palette as too sweet.
Type of glass
You may not think it, but the type of glass you use to drink your wine from can really impact how it tastes. For a Red Zinfandel, a standard wide red wine glass is perfect as it will help the vapors from the wine to rise and release its stunning fragrance.
For a White Zinfandel, a smaller, more standard white wine glass is perfect as the smaller bowl will help to retain all the freshness and crisp, clean flavors of your wine.
When is Zinfandel consumed?
Zinfandel is a fantastic choice of wine for many occasions; summer garden parties, a meal with family and friends, or for relaxing with after a hard day at work. Because of its fruity flavors, Zinfandel is a popular choice for many entering the world of wine as it is incredibly sweet and easy to drink unlike other varieties of red wine.
What food does Zinfandel pair well with?
No matter what color Zinfandel wine you opt for, it can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes ranging from rich, tender, juicy meats to light, fresh, creamy fishes, and desserts.
Red Zinfandel pairs perfectly with any meat, although it shines through when paired with beef or lamb as the fruity notes help to enhance the juices and herbs in the meat. It also pairs fantastically with hard and hearty cheeses that are richly flavored with cow's and sheep's milk such as Cheddar, Manchego and Parmesan.
And, if puddings and sweets are your thing then dark, rich desserts such as dark fruit gateau, chocolate lava cake and sticky toffee pudding are perfect to pair with Red Zinfandel.
As White Zinfandel is a much lighter, easier-to-drink, and versatile wine, it pairs with almost any food, although we think it’s the perfect match for seafood dishes as it’s incredibly refreshing and helps to enhance any creamy sauces the fish may be cooked in.
White Zinfandel pairs beautifully with a variety of fruit dishes too including apple pies, lemon drizzle cake, and lighter, more creamier fruit puddings.