Types Of Wine
Good Info.... Some Articles are short and some are long but all good information for anyone who wants to learn more about wine. Grab a glass of your favorite and do a little reading, one of the best ways to learn about wine!
Thanks to our contributors and the sites who gave us permission to share their stories.
TYPES OF WINE....
(Pronounced CA-burr-nay SO-vin-yawn)
Cabernet Sauvignon, often referred to as Cab Sav, is one of the most popular and widely recognized red wine grape varieties and is commonly considered the “king” of red grapes. It is planted in virtually every wine-producing region in the world and grows in a vast range of climates and soil types, although it thrives in warm temperatures and deep gravel soils. In addition to it’s adaptability, Cabernet Sauvignon is known for it’s thick-skinned grapes and resistant, vigorous vines, giving it the ability to retain it’s unique characteristics despite the diversity of climates in which it is grown. Additionally, the small dark berries can become heavily concentrated with flavor and aroma that help to make it an ideal grape for winemaking.
Typically Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold, complex and full-bodied red wine with deep, dark colors, high tannins, and high alcohol content. Because Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world in a wide spectrum of climates, it produces a variety of flavors and aromas ranging from blackcurrant, blackberry, cherry, vanilla, pepper, olive, oak, cedar wood, earth, truffle, and tobacco. In Bordeaux and Tuscany it is almost always blended to soften its astringent tannins. The Napa Valley style is dense, purplish black, jammy, with flavors of currants and black cherries.
The concentrated and complex flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon pair well with foods high in protein and fat and tend to overwhelm lighter, more delicate dishes. Try it with steak, lamb, ribs, duck, buffalo, pheasant, mild cheeses, and bitter vegetables like eggplant and arugula. It also pairs well with rich sauces as well as food that is grilled, roasted, charred, or smoked.
Researches have found that wines rich in flavonoids and antioxidants offer many potential health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer, protecting against cardiovascular disease, and increasing resistance to certain allergens and viruses. Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir, contain the highest levels of flavonoids and antioxidants. To reap the maximum health benefits, women should limit consumption to one four ounce serving a day, and men should have no more than two.
Although Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most prominent grape varieties, it wasn’t until the 17th century that it was created when French winemakers accidentally crossed Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Franc with Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabernet Sauvignon grows extremely well in California’s Napa Valley region. The majority of California’s most prized and expensive wines are Cabernet Sauvignons.
The most expensive wine ever sold in the world is Cabernet Sauvignon. An Imperial of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon was sold at auction for $500,000 in the year 2000.
In the 1990s, Merlot began to rival Cabernet Sauvignon in popularity among red grape varietals.
Cabernet Sauvignon wine is commonly used in blends such as Bordeaux (French), Meritage (American), and Super Tuscan (Italian).
Other names for Cabernet Sauvignon include Bouchet, Bouche, Petit-Bouchet, Petit-Cabernet, Petit-Vidure, Vidure, and Sauvignon Rouge.
Chardonnay is one of the most popular and widely planted green skin grape varieties and is grown in virtually every wine-producing country in the world. It is thought to have originated in the Burgundy region of France, and now thrives in California, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina. Chardonnay is favored among winemakers not just because it is so beloved among consumers, but also because it tends to be a low-maintenance vine that produces high-yielding crops and grows successfully in a wide range of climates.
The Chardonnay varietal is commonly said to be relatively flavor neutral, with its fruitiness attributed to the climate and soil in which it is grown. In general, wines produced in warmer climates such as parts of California, Chile, and Australia, will have more citrus and tropical flavors, like grapefruit, banana, melon, mango, and pineapple. Cooler regions such as Chablis and Germany will tend to produce lean, crisp wines with high acidity and more pronounced flavors and aromas of apple, green plum, and pear. Certain winemaking styles will also affect the end result Chardonnay. With the influence of oak through barrel aging, aromas and flavors of vanilla, spice, smoke, toast, caramel, and oak may become apparent. Additionally, malolactic fermentation, a process in which malic acid is converted into lactic acid, can add a rich toasty or buttery flavor to the final product.
Chardonnay is generally served chilled. A young, unoaked, cool climate Chardonnay such as Chablis, will pair well with foods that are light and delicate. Try it with grilled fish, prawns, crab, oysters, chicken, pasta primavera, or even sushi. Fruitier, lightly oaked varieties from a warmer climate like Chile or New Zealand can take on slightly richer dishes such as pasta with cream sauce, Caesar salad, guacamole, chicken salad with peach or melon, and mild curries. Full-bodied oak aged Chardonnay can handle even more richness and pairs well with eggs benedict, grilled veal chops, pumpkin ravioli, cheddar cheese, and foie gras. The most mature barrel aged varieties of Chardonnay may have a creamy or even nutty taste, and tend to match best with delicate foods like simple grilled fish, shellfish, chicken, or dishes with wild mushrooms and roasted tomatoes.
Chardonnay is the second most commonly planted white grape variety after the Spanish variety, Airén.
The Chardonnay grape is used to make both still and sparkling wines, including Champagne.
Chardonnay is often confused with Pinot Blanc, as the vines, leaves, and clusters are extremely similar in appearance.
Chardonnay gained popularity in the 1980s, and now there are over 100,000 acres of Chardonnay grapes planted in California alone.
Oak barrel aging will increase the wine’s body, complexity, and finish, but also the retail price. Oak barrels are quite expensive.
The purest expression of the traits and characteristics of Chardonnay grapes comes from the Chablis region, where simplistic styles of winemaking are preferred.
Merlot is one of the most planted and favored red wine grapes, rivaled only by Cabernet Sauvignon. It first originated in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, but is now grown all over the world. It is the most common red grape variety grown in the Bordeaux region of France, and is also extremely popular in northern parts of Italy and the warmer regions of southern Switzerland. The 1980s and 1990s saw an increase in Merlot cultivation in the United States, primarily in California and Washington. The flexibility, softness, and fresh, ripe fruit characteristics of Merlot make it ideal for varietal wines as well as blending with other red wine grapes.
Typically, wine produced from Merlot grapes is considered smooth, rounded, and easy to drink. It is generally medium-bodied, soft and velvety in texture, with fruity flavors of plum, cherry, blackberry, raspberry, and currant. Earthy notes of pepper, olive, mushroom, and tobacco are often present, as well as herbal notes of tea, thyme, rosemary, sage, and mint. With the influence of oak, Merlot can also take on flavors of cedar, smoke, vanilla, caramel and spice.
Merlot is normally served at room or cellar temperature. It is a food friendly wine whose soft, smooth characteristics allow it to be enjoyed with a wide variety of dishes ranging from fish to red meat. Depending on the style of Merlot chosen, it can pair well with roast meat and chicken, burgers, Italian cuisine, pizza, casseroles, seared or blackened salmon, rich sauces, caramelized roasted vegetables, mushroom based dishes, and salads with red fruits.
When consumed in moderation, Merlot offers potential health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cancer, and decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Resveratrol is a polyphenol compound produced by Merlot grapes when the grapes are converted into wine. It has antioxidant properties known to protect the lining of the blood vessels in the heart and reduce blood clots. Additionally it has been reported to aid in the production of good bacteria in the digestive tract, which may protect against gastrointestinal illnesses. Resveratrol has also been linked to improved mobility and enhanced cognitive functioning in older adults. “http://woman.thenest.com/benefits-merlot-wine-1792.html”
The name Merlot is thought to have derived from merle, meaning blackbird in French. It was likely given that name as either a reference to the dark blue-black color of the grape’s skin, or for the blackbird’s fondness of the early ripening grapes.
Merlot grown in cooler climates will have notes of blackberry and plum, while Merlot produced in warmer climates will have flavors of fruitcake and chocolate.
In traditional Bordeaux blends, Merlot is included to add softness and smoothness to the blend.
Because of its shape, the Merlot leaf is often said to resemble a monster’s face.
Between 1970 and 1975 French authorities banned the planting of Merlot because of problems involving frost and rot that were encountered in the 1950s and 1960s.
One of the most famous and expensive wines in the world, Château Pétrus, is almost exclusively Merlot.
PINOT GRIS / PINOT GRIGIO
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
(Pronounced PEE-noh gree / PEE-noh GREE-joe)
Pinot Gris is a white wine grape variety thought to be a pink-skinned mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. The word pinot is French for pine cone, and likely refers to the pine cone shaped bunches in which the grapes grow. Gris means gray in French, and refers to the pale grayish brown sheen the grapes take on. Pinot Gris originates from the vineyards of the Burgundy region of France, but is now grown all over the world. It is the most popular white wine produced in Italy, where it is known as Pinot Grigio, and flourishes in the northern regions of Alto-Adige, Veneto, and Friuli. Although Pinot Grigio is in fact the same grape as Pinot Gris, it exhibits certain stylistic differences in cultivation and fermentation that produce a wine that is crisper and more acidic than Pinot Gris.
The Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio grape is occasionally seen as a blending component, but it is normally used to produce varietal wines. Flavors and aromas can vary depending on the region where it is grown and the winemaking style employed. Regions such as Alsace and Oregon produce richer, fuller-bodied Pinot Gris wines that are lower in acidity with a floral bouquet and spicier taste with hints of citrus fruit, tree fruit, almonds and honey. In contrast, Italian Pinot Grigio and California Pinot Grigio are recognized for being light-bodied wines with vibrant, crisp acidity and notes of peach, melon, pear, apple and lemon. While Pinot Gris is a bit more suited for aging, Pinot Grigio is best consumed when fresh and young.
Pinot Grigio is normally served chilled, and makes a perfect cocktail wine as its crispness readies the palate for food. Because its light, refreshing taste does not overpower, it is considered an ideal choice to serve with fish and seafood. While a lighter fish dish such as grilled shrimp pairs well with Pinot Grigio, try a fuller-bodied Pinot Gris with heavier seafood dishes like seafood in cream sauce. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio also pairs well with a variety of chicken dishes, raw fish like tuna tartar and ceviche, quiche, creamy pastas, aged Gouda cheese, spring vegetables, and salad. For recipes to enjoy with Pinot Grigio, see “http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/pinot-grigio-pairings”.
Pinot Grigio wines are generally intended for consumption within a year or two of harvest. Lengthy cellaring is neither required nor suggested.
David Lett from Eyrie Vineyards planted the first American Pinot Gris vines in Oregon in 1966.
The grape thrives in New Zealand and is one of the five most planted varieties in that country.
The best Pinot Grigio is produced in the cooler climate of northern Italy.
Pinot Gris is known as Rulander or Grauer Burgunder in Austria and Germany.
White wine is the preferred option for migraine sufferers since it is low in the headache-inducing compound tyramine, unlike many red and rose wines.
(Pronounced PEE-noh Na-WAHR)
Pinot Noir is one of the most adored and revered red wine grape varietals and it produces some of the finest and most extraordinary wines in the world. The grape is planted in winegrowing regions everywhere, but is largely considered the most prominent red wine grape of Burgundy. Pinot Noir prefers a cooler climate, and thrives in regions such as the Carneros, Central Coast, and Russian River AVAs of California, the Willamette Valley of Oregon, Tasmania and Yarra Valley in Australia, the Martinborough and Marlborough regions of New Zealand, and the Walker Bay area of South Africa.
Winemakers agree Pinot Noir can be a challenging and temperamental varietal to successfully grow and vinify. With its thin skin and late ripening, Pinot Noir is prone to an array of issues, from frost, wind, mildew, and rot to viruses like fanleaf and leafroll. Rough handling in the vineyard and the winery also easily damages the delicate grapes. Pinot Noir is notoriously tough to convert into wine as well. The winemakers’ primary issue is trying to extract enough color and flavor from the thin grape skins without extracting too much astringent tannin.
Despite it’s formidable challenges, vintners continue to produce Pinot Noir because it is capable of making beautiful, aromatic, decadent wines. The colors range from cherry red to purplish red to even brown, and typical flavors include earth, leather, vanilla, tea, mint, raspberry, strawberry, and plum. The flavors of Pinot Noir can vary depending on the vintage and region where it’s grown. Burgundy produces wines that are light and herbaceous, with aromas of mushrooms, leaves, rose, violet, and cherry. Expect lush, big, fruity flavors from California styles, with hints of black cherry, black raspberry, vanilla and clove. A Pinot Noir from Oregon will be similar to the California version, but with more tartness, and a slightly lighter color and texture. New Zealand Pinot Noir also has a lot in common with California Pinot, but tends to have stronger spice and meaty aromas.
When pairing Pinot Noir with food, it’s important that it be served correctly. Pinot Noir will change in taste depending on the temperature at which it’s served, and is best enjoyed between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Pinot Noir goes well with a variety of different types of cuisines. Since it is one of the lighter red wines, it can be served with lighter foods without overpowering them. Being a red wine, it also complements many meat dishes as long as they are not too fatty. Richer seafood like lobster and crab, although typically paired with a white wine, can also be enjoyed with Pinot Noir. Try it with pork, poultry, veal, wild game, salmon, strong fish like anchovies or mackerel, pasta with pesto, sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and chocolate.
Pinot Noir is most commonly praised for it’s still, red, varietal wines, but it is also an important component in the production of sparkling white wines, including Champagne.
In the Middle Ages, Benedictine and Cistercian monks began recording and designating specific Burgundy terroirs, building stone walls to distinguish the different areas. Many present day vineyard boundaries are based on these same distinctions.
Pinot Noir can be prone to mutation, and because of its long history there are hundreds of different clones in vineyards around the world. More than 50 are officially recognized in France compared to only 25 of the more extensively planted Cabernet Sauvignon.
Since Pinot Noir is a particularly sensitive grape varietal, it is important to pay close attention to the vintage.
The juice of the Pinot Noir grape is colorless.
Synonyms for Pinot Noir include Pinot Nero, Pinot Negro, Spatburgunder, and Blauburgunder.
Also known as Johannisberg or white Riesling, Riesling is a white grape varietal indigenous to the Rhine region of Germany. It is a light skinned and aromatic grape and is commonly thought to be one of the world’s finest white grape varietals along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The variety is widely planted in the Mosel, Rheingau, Nahe, and Pfalz wine areas of Germany, but is also grown in California, Washington State, the Alsace region of France, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Riesling is known for it’s expressive and alluring bouquet, which suggests flowers, green apples, grapefruit, peach, and honeysuckle blossoms. While many associate Riesling with sweet wine, it actually produces a wide array of wines ranging from dry and complex to very sweet. Its naturally high acidity gives it a fresh, crisp taste, and even the sweeter styles are not too thick or syrupy. Riesling is affected by the climate and soil, or the terroir, of the region in which it is grown. For example Californian Rieslings tend to be drier and softer and may have a melon-like taste, while German Rieslings are generally sweeter, more tart, with a peach, apricot, or grapefruit flavor.
Because of its balance of acidity and sugar, Riesling is considered a versatile and food friendly wine. Dry Riesling is an ideal wine for pairing with seafood like lobster, oysters, or battered fish. It also complements chicken, pork, and light pastas, as well as vegetarian dishes. Sweeter and off-dry varieties go well with slightly sweeter food such as sweet barbeque sauces and fruit chutneys, and vegetables like corn, yams, turnips, and parsnips. The sweeter Rieslings make an excellent match for many Indian and Chinese dishes as well. Both varieties of Riesling are great with duck, goose, turkey, game birds, ham, sausage, and cold cuts, as well as spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger, cumin, and curry. While dryer Rieslings should be served cool at 47 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit, the sweeter varieties are served a bit warmer.
There is a classification system to arrange Riesling wines by their sweetness. From driest to sweetest, they are Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. These whites range from the drier, crisper style to the very sweet, dessert wine style.
Riesling wines are pure varietals and are rarely oaked.
Certain Riesling wines display notes of petroleum. During the aging process a compound is created that is thought to be the cause of the petroleum note.
The priciest Riesling wines are late harvest dessert wines, produced by letting the grapes remain on the vines well past regular harvesting time.
Rieslings are not suggested for pairing with red meat or black pepper, as both have a lot of flavor that will overpower the wine.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Danish court gets drunk on Riesling wine every night.
Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile white wine grape variety originating from the Bordeaux region of western France. The grape is commonly associated with the Loire Valley for its important role in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. It is planted in many of the world’s wine growing countries, and has flourished in the Marlborough area of New Zealand, Sonoma and Napa Valley in California, northern Italy, and the Casablanca and San Antonio valleys of Chile.
Sauvignon Blanc produces wines that are dry, crisp, and refreshing with zesty citrus flavors and undertones of grassiness. When introduced to oak during barrel aging, it can take on creamier notes of vanilla, spice and smoke. The flavor varies depending on the climate and soil where it’s grown as well as the winemaking techniques used. In the Loire Valley, expect dry, vivid wines with hints of grapefruit and gooseberry. The New Zealand version is similarly dry and intense, but also herbaceous and tangy with flavors of grass and tropical fruit. South Africa and Chile generally produce Sauvignon Blanc with noticeable mineral notes. In California, Sauvignon Blanc will typically fall into two styles. There is the New Zealand inspired version that is recognized for its ripeness and tropical citrus fruit flavors. The other style is Fumé Blanc, a name coined by winemaker Robert Mondavi in 1968 in honor of Pouilly-Fumé. At that time, Sauvignon Blanc had not been especially well received in the United States by winemakers and consumers alike. By cultivating a particularly impressive batch of Sauvignon Blanc grapes and renaming it, Mondavi successfully transformed the image of Sauvignon Blanc in the United States. Fumé Blanc wines are subtle and elegant, with flavors of melon as well as tart fruits like green apple and gooseberry.
The high acidity of Sauvignon Blanc makes it a wine that is very food-friendly. It pairs well with light fish, shellfish, white meat, pork, veal, and green vegetables like bell peppers, fennel, and spinach. It complements mildly acidic cheeses like sharp cheddar, chevre, Greek feta, and Pecorino Romano as well as dishes using leafy herbs like basil or cilantro. Sauvignon Blanc is also a great choice for foods that are fried, aged, grilled, and smoked. Foods to stay away from with Sauvignon Blanc include red meats, creamy or buttery dishes, and Asian cuisine.
The grape’s name is likely derived from the French words sauvage, meaning wild, and blanc, meaning white.
Sauvignon Blanc is usually consumed when young and fresh, as certain varietals take on notes of asparagus and peas when aged.
Along with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc was one of the first wines to be bottled with a screw cap rather than a cork.
In the Sauternes region, the grape is blended with Sémillon to make the late harvest wine, Sauternes.
A newer clone of Sauvignon Blanc that is increasing in popularity is Sauvignon Musqué, which produces a very aromatic, floral wine.
Sauvignon Blanc is generally an affordable wine, rarely surpassing $50 a bottle.
SYRAH / SHIRAZ
Syrah / Shiraz
(Pronounced See-rah / Shih-RAHZ)
Syrah is a dark-skinned red grape variety widely planted in wine-growing regions throughout the world. Although its origins have been disputed, it flourishes in the Rhône Valley of France, the Columbia Valley of Washington State, and Australia, where it is known as Shiraz and is considered the country’s national grape. As one of the most diverse and versatile red wine grapes, Syrah is used to make single varietals as well as blends. It is the primary grape variety used to make the famous peppery, earthy red Rhône wines of Côte Rotie and Hermitage, and is an important component to most Rhône blends, including Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, and Côtes du Rhône.
From easy drinking and fresh to complex and full-bodied, Syrah is capable of producing an array of different wines. The typical style and flavor profile of Syrah include dark fruits like blackcurrant, cherry, and plum, as well as notes of pepper, tobacco, oak and spice. Flavors may vary depending on the climate and soil type of where the grape is planted, in addition to the winemaking practices chosen. The moderate climate of the northern Rhône Valley will produce wines that are medium to full-bodied, dark and earthy, with notes of blackberry, black pepper, and mint. In hotter climates like the Barossa Valley of Australia, expect full-bodied, rich Syrah with intense berry and jammy fruit flavors and hints of spice, licorice, and leather.
As an earthy, fruity red wine, Syrah pairs well with red meats, lamb, sausage, roast pork, barbeque, and game meats like venison or pheasant. Also try it with stews, chili, spicy pizzas, and dishes with lots of black pepper or strong herbs. Vegetarians can enjoy it with grilled vegetables like portobello mushrooms, eggplant and zucchini. Because of it’s high alcohol content, it is not recommended with extremely spicy food or lighter fish dishes.
Some believe the Syrah grape originated in the ancient Persian city of Shiraz, and was then brought to Rhône.
In 1999, DNA profiling proved Syrah to be a genetic cross of two grapes, the white mondeuse blanc and the black dureza.
Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, which is a completely different grape.
More than half the world's total Syrah is cultivated in France.
Immigrant James Busby, who brought vine clippings with him from Europe, introduced the Syrah grape into Australia in 1832.
Because of their high tannin content and concentrated flavors, Syrah wines respond very well to lengthy bottle aging and tend to improve over decades. Syrah is a wine that can easily last 30 years.
TEMPRANILLO / TINTO FINO / TINTA RORIZ
Tempranillo / Tinto Fino / Tinta Roriz
Tempranillo is a thick-skinned black grape variety native to Spain and is used to produce some of the finest red wines of Spain and Portugal. It flourishes in cool, humid climates and higher altitudes, and tends to have a temperamental nature making winemaking a challenge. Meaning “little early one,” Tempranillo ripens earlier than other varieties and has a relatively short growing season. Although it is considered Spain’s “noble grape” and is the primary grape used in Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines, Tempranillo is also grown worldwide and thrives in California, Argentina, and Australia.
The Tempranillo grape is versatile and vibrant, and typically produces full-bodied red wines with ripe red fruit flavors like strawberry and plum. In comparison to other red grape varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, Tempranillo has a relatively neutral or vague flavor profile. For this reason it is frequently seen as the base variety in blends, often combined with Grenache (Garnacha in Spain), Carignan (Mazuelo in Rioja), and Graciano. It is most famous for the rich dark red wines of Rioja, where extensive oak aging adds complexity and notes of vanilla, coconut, cedar, and spice. There are a variety of different wine styles within Rioja as well, ranging from older more traditional styles to lighter, more acidic styles. The Tempranillos of Ribera del Duero are typically darker and more powerful than most Riojas, and generally see less oak aging.
There are numerous options for pairing Tempranillo with food. It is suitable for pairing with most meat dishes, especially lamb and pork loin, beef short ribs, roasted chicken, and stronger tasting fowl. Try it with hamburgers or filet mignon. Mildly spicy foods including many Cajun and Indian dishes pair well with Tempranillo. It will also complement hearty stews and roasted vegetables. In general, foods to avoid pairing with Tempranillo include cheese and mild fish, as well as dishes with a heavy acidic component like lemon juice, tomato, or vinegar.
Tempranillo dates back to before the time of Christ. It’s been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the Phoenicians settled it in 1100 B.C.
In the Douro Valley of Portugal, the grape is known as Tinto Roriz, and is used to produce complex and fragrant varietal wines. It is also a key blending grape in fortified wines, or Port.
Tempranillo is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to produce expensive and refined modern Riojas, however Cabernet Sauvignon is prohibited in the Appellation and cannot be included on the bottle label.
In California, Tempranillo is grown for grape juice, and is called Valdepeñas.
The soils found in the High Plains and Hill Country areas of Texas are very similar to those of northern Spain. Tempranillo has been well received in Texas and is now considered the state's signature grape.
Extremely extensive aging was epitomized by Marqués de Murrieta, a winery that in 1983 released a 1942 wine called a Gran Reserva.
Zinfandel, affectionately nicknamed “Zin,” is a dark-skinned red grape variety widely cultivated in the Napa and Sonoma regions of California. It was first thought to have arrived in the New World in the early 19th century via Italy, but is now thought to have originated in Croatia. Regardless, today it is considered uniquely American and is considered a chief grape of California.
Zinfandel has been used to make a variety of styles of wine, ranging from bold and robust red wines to sweeter blush type roses (White Zinfandel). The grape has a very high sugar content that enables it to be fermented into wines with high alcohol content. The style of the wine largely depends on the ripeness of the grapes, the climate and vineyard location, and the winemaking techniques used. Light-bodied Zinfandels are the most popular and are young and fresh with bright, fresh fruit and berry flavors. Medium-bodied styles have more fruit flavors with spicier character and more detectable tannins. Finally, the fuller-bodied wines are richer with deeper color and a greater capacity for aging. They are more concentrated with an underlying pepper or spice flavor and notes of blackberries and raspberries.
Zinfandel is a red wine variety that is best enjoyed in its youth, within 3-5 years of its vintage. It is normally served between 57F and 67F, a bit warmer than refrigerator temperature but slightly cooler than room temperature. When pairing with food, Zinfandel goes well with a variety of meats including lamb, beef, pork, ribs and venison. It also matches well with poultry such as turkey, quail, pheasant, and chicken. Try it with seafood dishes like grilled fish, tuna, fish stews, fish tacos and bouillabaisse. It also complements a number of pasta dishes, ranging from tomato-based dishes to creamier pastas. For cheese pairings, choose aged cheddar, aged Gouda, Asiago and Parmesean.
The Zinfandel varietal is extremely old. It most likely originated in Caucasus in around 6000 B.C., and it was one of the very first grapes to be converted into wine when the winemaking process was created.
In the 1990s, DNA research confirmed that Zinfandel is identical to Italy's Primitivo.
In the 1970s, some Italian producers began labeling their Primitivo wines as Zinfandel, in an attempt to profit on Zinfandel's success on the US market. Now, as Primitivo once again gains popularity in Italy, a number of Californian vineyards are labeling their Zinfandel wines as Primitivo.
Most Primitivo is grown in Puglia, the "heel" of Italy, and it is thought to be the country's 12th most widely cultivated grape varietal.
White Zinfandel wine is made from the red Zinfandel grape. The heavily pigmented grape skins are quickly removed after they are crushed, resulting in a lighter pink/rose color.
Because of its vigorous vines and resistance to disease, there are many Zinfandel vineyards that are 100 or more years old. Zinfandel fans believe these older vines produce the best wines, because the older vineyards yield smaller crops and the grapes tend to ripen more evenly.