06 May, 2021
Indulgent Zinfandel has been proudly and passionately produced in the USA since the 1800s - this velvety red wine is a popular choice for all occasions and it's not hard to understand why. Not to be confused with its sweet, blush pink sister, Zinfandel red wine has a bold identity all of its own.
Powerful, spicy, rich and versatile, a glass of Zinfandel makes itself at home during a summer celebration enjoying smoked delights from a barbeque or on a chilly New Year's Eve, laughing and chatting over a lavish cheeseboard oozing with treats.
From its European origins to a glass of California's pride and joy, find your perfect match with our guide to zesty Zinfandel.
What is Zinfandel?
Often referred to simply as 'Zin' in America, Zinfandel is a rich and robust red wine, produced from delicious black-skinned grapes, mainly in the USA. Famous for being a bold and dry red wine, Zinfandel is versatile and boasts a range of styles and tastes to suit a variety of palates.
Explosive, powerful flavours characterise this stunning red wine but the Zinfandel winemaking process is many-layered. Your senses will dance with a multitude of aromas, flavours and textures depending on the variety you sample.
Where is Zinfandel from?
You'll discover a plethora of Zinfandel wineries in the US, particularly California as the sunny state provides perfect conditions for the grape - but where did this indulgent red wine originate from?
The history of this wine is much debated - and although the DNA of the California Zinfandel grape has been connected to southern Italy's Primitivo grape - the origin of Zinfandel grapes is the Dalmatian Coast. The grape is then thought to have arrived in Italy from Croatia during the 18th century.
Zinfandel emerged and became popular in California by the 1850s as a result of the beautiful grape-growing conditions. Its vogue rose across America, stumbling during the Prohibition before ascending once more around the 1970s.
These days, Zinfandel vineyards in America and Italy are the only locations in the world that grow and lovingly craft this rich, velvety red wine.
The Zinfandel taste
Zinfandel is an exciting red wine that comes in a variety of styles. If you're a wine lover into a fruit-forward, light drop, you'll find a Zinfandel for you - but you also will if you enjoy something bolder that's packed with spice.
Although its colour is usually slightly lighter than other red wines, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel is dry and full-bodied with a medium tannin and packs a whole load of power. Common flavours associated with a red Zinfandel wine are aromas of dark fruits, spice and smoky notes - cherry, jam, black pepper, plum, blueberry and even liquorice.
Zinfandel grapes are red and hearty, laden with juicy, deep flavour - but this grape actually produces more than just a bold, rich red wine. It also yields a sweet, floral blush known as White Zinfandel rosé wine - it's the winemaking process that separates these two very different wines from the grape they come from.
Dark Horse Zinfandel characteristics
The Dark Horse California Zinfandel is an award-winning and bold wine, crafted bravely by passionate winemaker Beth Liston. Sun-soaked California is the ideal setting for Zinfandel grapes - it's a place for this juicy red fruit to thrive. Only when the grape reaches prime ripeness will it be harvested - it's then fermented at an elevated temperature before being aged on oak.
The many layers of this carefully-crafted process combine to achieve a glorious Zinfandel red wine. Not only rich in colour, but Dark Horse Zinfandel is intense in aroma and taste, with jammy dark fruit notes and velvety tannins to crescendo to a well-balanced finish. Serve it with confidence to impress your friends and family.
Zinfandel food pairings
As Zinfandel wine boasts a variety of styles, it's also exceptionally versatile when it comes to pairing with cuisine - meaning you're likely to find your new favourite combination.
Tantalise your taste buds with a well-balanced moderate Zinfandel accompanied by delicious Italian dishes. Gather friends and tuck into a traditional Neapolitan pizza or a spicy pasta dish and toast the occasion with glasses of Zinfandel all round.
A Zinfandel red wine with aromas of rich fruit pairs exquisitely with dishes that have a pinch of spice - sample delights fresh from the barbecue that pack a punch, or even a zingy curry if you want food that really fits the bill.
Whether you're out to impress a loved one or having a cosy evening in front of a roaring fire with friends, a drop of rich and jammy Zinfandel also complements an elegant cheese board.
Zinfandel serving temperature
You know a quality wine when you sample one, so you’ll understand that serving temperature plays a large role in highlighting the bouquet of aromas in each glass. Many only focus on getting this perfect for a white or rosé. However, striving for the optimal serving temperature of your Zinfandel red wine will ensure its structure, aromas and flavours are elevated to another level.
It can be tricky to get temperatures right with red wine - serve your Zinfandel too cold and you'll strip away all the hard work, creating an acidic mouth feel, serve too warm and it will become drab. Pop your bottle of Zinfandel in the fridge for 10-15 minutes and you should strike the ideal tone - but why not test your palate? Pour a glass at room temperature, then sample a glass that's been chilled for that short period of time and you'll discover what you're looking for.
Zinfandel plays in a league all of its own - from sun-drenched vineyards, through the many-layered, passionate process, to the first glug into your glass, this red wine is a game changer. Pour the essence of California into your glass gathered around a smoky summer barbecue, at an elegant wedding ceremony or a winter's evening huddled around a bonfire with friends- whatever the occasion, Zinfandel wine is certain to hit the perfect note.