The Zinfandel is a red grape that has been grown in southern Italy since the early 1700′s. It is believed to have originated in Croatia, although nobody seems to know for sure. Another uncertainty is exactly how the grape got its name, although it is likely that like many other grape varieties it was named for the owners of the original vineyard where the grapes were grown. The Zinfandel has a higher sugar content than many other varieties which means that it can produce a sweeter wine and also that it is capable of producing a higher alcohol level, sometimes as high as 15%.
Originally the Zinfandel was used to make red wine, but ever since the “white” version was introduced it far surpassed the red in popularity. In fact, many people’s only association with this wine is White Zinfandel which sells at about six times the rate of the red. The White Zinfandel wine has such a pleasant semi-sweet flavor and is so smooth in texture that even non-wine drinkers find it quite enjoyable. Interestingly, “white” Zinfandel is actually a blush or rosé and has a soft pinkish hue.
Approximately 10% of the grapes grown in California are Zinfandels and the grape is also grown in Arizona, Washington, Colorado, and even in the mid-west in states like Iowa and Ohio. And of course, they still grow them in Italy and Croatia as well.
A Zinfandel wine is best paired with flavorful and spicy dishes. It is great with seafood as well. Imagine off-setting a spicy bowl of chili with a sweet White Zinfandel. Wow about a delicious spinach salad with a strong blue cheese mellowed by a nice glass of Zinfandel wine? Really a Zinfandel wine works well with almost anything. It goes great with most desserts and in some cases can even be dessert.