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Zinfandel

Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward

Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, but more commonly in modern-day Croatia by the far less pronounceable synonym Crljenak Kaštelanski, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California. Zinfandel has found success throughout the state, particularly in the Napa, the Sierra Foothills, the Central Coast, and Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.

In the Glass

Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.

Perfect Pairings

Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.

Sommelier Secret

Zinfandel ripens late and unevenly, often resulting in two things: high sugar levels that convert to explosive levels of alcohol—often up to 16%—and harvested grape bunches that contain both green, unripe grapes and raisins. If care is not taken to sort grapes at the winery before fermentation, removing grapes that are not at the optimal ripeness level, the resulting wines may suffer from a combination of “green” flavors and an unpleasantly sweet raisined character.

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  • Rombauer California Zinfandel 2015
    Zinfandel from California
      Currently Unavailable $29.99
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    • Four Vines Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2014
      Zinfandel from Lodi, California
      • WE 91
      • WW 90
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    • Rombauer El Dorado Zinfandel 2014
      Zinfandel from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
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      • Amapola Creek Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel 2013
        Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
        • RP 95
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      • Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2015
        Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
        • WS 90
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      • Seghesio Cortina Zinfandel 2013
        Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
        • WS 94
        • RP 94
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      • Terra d'Oro Zinfandel 2014
        Zinfandel from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
        • WE 90
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      • The Prisoner Wine Company Saldo Zinfandel 2014
        Zinfandel from California
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        • Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2013
          Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
          • W&S 94
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        • Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2013
          Zinfandel from Lodi, California
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          • Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Zinfandel 2015
            Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
            • WS 92
            • WW 90
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          • Decoy Zinfandel 2015
            Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
            • WS 90
            • WW 90
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          • Limerick Lane Russian River Zinfandel 2014
            Zinfandel from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
            • RP 94
            • WS 92
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          • Fiddletown Old Vine Zinfandel 2013
            Zinfandel from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
            • WE 92
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          • Plungerhead Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel 2014
            Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
            • WW 90
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          • Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vines Zinfandel 2014
            Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
            • WE 92
            • WW 92
            • WS 90
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          • Concrete Old Vine Zinfandel 2012
            Zinfandel from Lodi, California
            • TP 93
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          • San Lorenzo Rock Garden Zinfandel 2014
            Zinfandel from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
            • WS 94
            • WW 92
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          • Predator Old Vine Zinfandel 2015
            Zinfandel from Lodi, California
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            • Shenandoah Special Reserve Zinfandel 2015
              Zinfandel from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
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              • 1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel 2015
                Zinfandel from California
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                • Storybook Mountain Mayacamas Range Zinfandel (375ML half-bottle) 2013
                  Zinfandel from Napa Valley, California
                  • W&S 94
                  • WW 90
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                • Carol Shelton Wild Thing Zinfandel 2014
                  Zinfandel from Mendocino, California
                  • WW 89
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                • Easton Amador County Zinfandel 2013
                  Zinfandel from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
                  • WE 91
                  • WS 90
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                • Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Ancient Zinfandel 2013
                  Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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