Lookin' Good at 58

Thursday, March 26, 2009


An interesting grape indeed and one that has travelled extensively before making it's home in California , the wine attains a very high alcohol with a sweet fruit , nice acidity , and a bramble like jam quality. Some other aromas you may get on the nose are black pepper , dates , prunes , chocolate herb aroma and even some black tea. All of the mentioned are the indicators of a wine that when benefiting from a long hot growing season can produce a grape with very high sugar levels that when fermented make for a alcohol sometimes as high as 17%. In California where the temperatures can get quite hot the grape can shrivel quite quickly into a raisin if not careful.

One of the difficulties in growing Zinfandel is the uneven ripening of the grapes due to the tightness of bunches which can cause the vitner a headache when it comes time to picking them. Some may be ready and some may not.

To bring out the dried fruit spiciness of a great Zinfandel it ages in large oak red wood casks coming from the States. A really good Zin can be aged from 4 to 7 years making some bottles of this wine pretty expensive. Aging in the bottle brings out the dried fruit spiciness that characterizes an expensive bottle of Zinfandel. To add some backbone as well some Petite Sirah is blended in with the Zin in some spots.

Although many thought Zinfandel was native to American soil it has now been proven through DNA testing that the parent of Zinfandel is that of the primitivo grape found in Apulgia , Italy. Now there is thought that both Zinfandel and Primitivo come from another grape named Crljenak Kastelanski in Croatia. All a bit confusing isn't it? Especially now that this Crljenak grape for short has crossed with another local grape variety named Dobricic to become Croatia's best known variety , Plavic Mali.

Why do you ask that a Zinfandel from California can produce different styles of wines from dry to sweet , light and fruity to rich and dark , dessert wine to sparkling and white to rose? Just because of the uneven ripeness that occurs when growing the grape itself. Some may already be ready for picking while other grapes still are in the green stage. This is for the vitner to decide on what kind of wine he will choose when vinification time comes around.

The Zinfandel grape depending on the ripeness of it may go ahead and develop a red wine but the inferior grapes may go into making a White Zinfandel wine that still is a popular summer drink to enjoy amongst all ages.

Some food matches for a full bodied red Zinfandel include a chicken with a barbecue sauce to go with the sweetness of a ripe Zin , a Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings and that cranberry accompaniment , stuffed peppers to go with the herbal nuance you get with the wine , or even a dark chocolate cake with the wines jammy like quality.

In concluding , a nice bottle of Zinfandel is a real treat and guaranteed to warm your insides , and leave your palate well coated with a whole bunch of flavours going on leaving you wanting more after that first sip.


Food Service Ninja said...

i liked your description of the Red Zin and was nice to learn why its got such a diverse taste profile.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Food Service Ninja...thanks! I love a Zinfandel.

SkippyMom said...

I am going with the Red Zin for next Thanksgiving. Great advice - I know it will be wonderful.

[don't laugh but we usually have the blush/rose', but I love the idea of this better]

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

SkippyMom...that would be nice to try the red Zin. The blush or rose is a good match too. Have you tried a Spanish rose with the Grenache grape? Not as sweet though. Turkey goes good with a blush wine too.For a try go with the red next time like you say.