Zinfandel: The Sultry

Date October 15, 2008

Learn About Zinfandel

You’re a full-bodied, jammy red wine, Zinfandel. Dry. You are mouthwatering raspberry fruit with high pepper notes. Let me go on. You are cassis, licorice and graphite. You are dusky brambles and bay leaves. You are whiskey in a wine package. You are a hot red wine, Zinfandel, and this is accentuated by your spicy nature.

Your ability to produce high alcohols precedes you, as you can reach upwards of 14% or more. While Californian by reputation, you are not native to the U.S. Crljenak is your forebear. You were once thought to be Primitivo, however, it turned out that you were both clones of the same origin. But given that no one but Croatians can pronounce Crljenak, Zinfandel is by far easier to say.

With your Primitivo misnomer comes the belief that you were brought to the U.S. via Italy and while cuttings of that vine may have found its way here, your arrival origins, Zinfandel, are most probably Albanian in nature. But who cares? You’re the yummiest red wine ever.

You are a bit difficult on the vine, Zinfandel, having the tendency to ripen uneven. A winemaker might find you with unripe, acidic grapes mixed in with a cluster of overripe, sundried grapes. But you can be a long-lived vine, a gnarly un-irrigated vine, often a hundred years old or older and in an area of wide sun exposure you will produce those luscious jammy wine grapes that make for your coveted ‘old vine’ wines.

You like oak. And oak barrels can bring out coconut flavors and impart the spice you are acclaimed for. Your upfront fruit flavors are powerful on the palate and you can be quite age-worthy as a red wine, as producing less fruit, your flavors can be more concentrated.

But you have a dark side to your nature, Zinfandel. Because of your versatility you are often whored out as that light pink monstrosity, White Zinfandel. Your reputation as this varietal has become so bad, you are often thought of only in this light, never ever being recognized for the amazing red wine you are naturally. And then to top it off, you are widely used in most ‘jug wine’ from California.

But this can all be attributed to your hardiness in the vineyard. You can survive in nearly all soil and climes and you are prolific in production. But due to your short stem stature, you are prone to mildew and rot and a lack of moisture will cause you to raisin. This can all be curtailed with proper water management however.

While you are best drunk under the age of five, Zinfandel, you are by far jammier than any other red out there.

Typically produced in one style, Zinfandel does not have an extensive style profile.

Grape Styles
Raspberry | Black Raspberry | Blackberry | Raisin | Candied Fruit | Anise | Black Pepper | Bay Leaf | Basil | Thyme | Cinnamon | Clove | Sandalwood | Spice | Nutmeg | Oak | Vanilla

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