Once considered native to the US, the folks in lab coats tell us that the Zinfandel grape actually hails from the heel of Italy, and before that, Croatia.
No one knows where the name Zinfandel came from, but if you flash on Hello Kitty when someone says “White Zin” – well, you’re not alone. It is pink.
Zinfandel is actually a kick-ass, spicy, high-octane grape. Think Monica Bellucci crossed with Milla Jovovich in a gold rush town, and you’re getting close. Marcel joins the paparazzi.
Goes great with: anything rubbed, marinated, or brined…and a great backrub.
Why is it that some grapes seem to have a gender? “OK, White Zinfandel, that’s easy Marcel – it’s a rosé, it’s pink, it’s feminine.” But it’s more than that: Zinfandel grapes grow in ridiculous bounty, so dense and dark, so full of sugar, that it could only be de la femme. Like a miner for a heart of gold, Zinfandel found its name and its fortune in California in the 1880’s.
It was saved by fashion. In the 1970’s, everyone was drinking California Chardonnay, and there weren’t enough white grapes, so they made a rosé from old Zinfandel vines, which had survived through the dark days of Prohibition. Somewhere beneath the disco ball, it caught on.
California White Zin was easy. Strawberry blonde, she grew up in a trailer in the Central Valley, she was sweet, she was beautiful on roller skates. But you would have been a fool to disregard her.
With low tannin and robust berry flavors, the Zinfandel grape holds a spectrum of possible styles within it, from dry to sweet, light to deep body. The White Zinfandels of today are more off-dry, conscious of their beauty and willing to showcase their unique terroir. As a red, Zin is matched with the muscle of American oak to develop her spice, full body, and intellect. Drink her in, but patronize her at your own risk.