Varietal Image

Zinfandel Facts

  • Flavor Profile:
    Bold, assertive red wines often showing jammy fruits and impressively high alcohol
  • Food Pairings:
    Grilled meats and barbecue
  • Recommended Growing Regions:
    Sonoma Valley, Paso Robles, Contra Costa, Mendocino, Sierra Foothills (California)

Recommended Wineries:

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Zinfandel is not the rage it was in the 1980s and early 1990s, as there are now too many wines made from overripe fruit or from young vines, or overwhelmed by excessive use of new barrels. Today's Zinfandel styles range from elegant, taut, and claret-like midweights to superripe and potty behemoths, with off-the-charts alcohol levels, distinctly exotic character, and, frequently, noticeable residual sugar. Classic Zinfandels are normally medium to full in body, with fruit-driven aromas and flavors of fresh berries, black pepper, and spices, sometimes with notes of citrus zest, chocolate, and briary underbrush; they are rarely overwhelmed by oak notes. Many of the best producers continue to work largely with very old vines (some-times with "field blends" that include other grapes such as Petite Sirah and Carignan), which give consistently low crop levels and make wines with atypical creaminess of texture, aromatic complexity, and aging potential.