A beginners guide to Zinfandel

June 3, 2017

While it’s often looked down upon by wine aficionados, Zinfandel is pretty much the perfect beginners wine. White Zinfandel in particular, with it’s low alcohol content, low calorie content, and tasty sweetness is a great option for those looking for a no-nonsense easy drinking wine.

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If the taste wasn’t enough to justify giving it a try, how about some good old fashioned patriotism? Since it’s surge in popularity in the 1970s Zinfandel is produced almost exclusively in California, making it as all-American as a wine can get.

Flavour Profile

Zinfandel comes in two varieties, red and white. White Zinfandel, despite its name, more closely resembles a rosè with its slightly pink color and is the most popular of the Zinfandel types. Not known for it’s sophistication, White Zinfandel is sweet and fruity, and has a light body.

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Red Zinfandel, or just Zinfandel as it’s commonly called, is more complex and sophisticated than the white variety. Red Zinfandel is light-bodied and has a high acidity which combines to give it a fairly bold taste. It has a fruity and spicy taste with strawberry, blueberry, and cinnamon notes being the most prominent.

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Food Pairings

Thanks to it’s intense sweetness and spiciness, Zinfandel pairs extremely well with curry. It’s also a great companion to barbecued meats, particularly when they are coated with dry rubs and sauce. Try it with beef and lamb to really bring out the flavours.

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The wine also pairs well with rich vegetables such as roasted tomatoes, peppers, squash, and onions.

As it’s a fairly light wine, Zinfandel pairs well with hard and rich cheeses such as aged cheddar and Swiss.

Wines to try

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You can get a perfectly adequate White Zinfandel for as little as $5 making it pretty much the perfect idiot-proof wine. Those looking for something a little extravagant should try one of these options.

Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Zinfandel ($15)

This wine offers a pleasing combination of sweetness and tartness. Expect more tannins than usual and you won’t be disappointed.

Frog’s Leap Zinfandel ($25)

This wine puts the herbs front and center, but still offers the same pleasing sweetness you’re expect from a classic Zinfandel.

Hartford Old Vine Zinfandel ($30)

Dark and dense, this wine has an intense fruity taste followed with a spicy finish.

James Aitchison