Zinfandel has a white and a red version and the white Zinfandel is very often the first wine someone drinks. It’s a safe option, as it’s quite sweet and has a low ABV of around 10% or lower.

It’s often only $5 or $6 a bottle, so it’s within the budget of younger drinkers, but it doesn’t have the depth or complexity that the red version does.

What’s so great about red Zinfandel?

The taste is quite complex, with notes of jam, black pepper, licorice, cranberry and plum. It starts off sweet and fruity and then gives way to a warm spiciness and a slightly smoky finish.

How does it stack up against other reds?

The red Zinfandel is a lighter red than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but it has a decent amount of tannin and a lot of acidity, so it comes across as bolder than it really is.

In general, red Zinfandels have more alcohol than most reds, ranging from 14% to 17%, and this extra alcohol adds to the texture and body.

What foods does Zinfandel pair with?

Zinfandel is perfect for spicy foods as it’s sweeter than most reds. It’s ideal for meaty barbecues and curries. It’s a good idea to identify the spices in the wine and add them to the sauce.

You need to think of rich and aromatic curries, rather than searingly hot ones. A good idea is a savoury-sweet curry like a Balti or a Japanese katsu rather than a vindaloo or a phaal.

Zinfandel’s best meat pairings

Although it’s a red, Zinfandel works well with lighter meats like turkey, ham, bacon and veal. It can still work well with barbecued beef and lamb, though, especially if the sauce is sweeter.

The best spice combinations

You may notice your Zinfandel has notes of ginger, black pepper, saffron, fennel, vanilla, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and curry, as well as coriander and even rosemary.

Its favourite cheeses

Zinfandel goes best with hard cheeses that are rich, like Manchego or aged cheddars.


Vegetarian food and vegetables

You need veggies with a bit of punch – roasted red peppers or tomatoes, cranberries, beetroot, caramelized onions and roast squash. These foods bring out the Zinfandel’s natural fruitiness.


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