What Is Zinfandel?


Zinfandel is the most popular type of red grape. It is planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. While California is the most popular place to grow the Zinfandel grape it is grown all over the United States as well. It can be found growing in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. Zinfandel vines are quite hearty and grow the best in climates that are warm but not too hot. If the grapes are exposed to temperatures that are too hot the grapes may shrivel. The thin-skinned grapes grow in large, tight bunches and can be prone to bunch rot(a fruit rotting disease).

Zinfandel grapes ripen fairly early and produce juice with high sugar levels. Because of the Zinfandel’s high sugar content it can be fermented into higher levels of alcohol, some exceeding 15 percent! The Zinfandel grape produces a robust, semi-sweet, red wine. The taste of the red wine depends on how ripe the grape is when it is made. Once the grapes are harvested, the length of fermentation, length of maceration period with skin contact and the level of oak all affect the wine’s flavor.

The degrees Brix(which represents the amount of sugar content) of the grapes when they are harvested have an affect on the wine’s flavor as well. White Zinfandel is normally harvested at 20*Bx. This contributes hints of tobacco and apple to the wine. At 23*Bx the wine will take on strawberry flavors. Cherry flavors arrive at 24*Bx with blackberry notes showing at 25*Bx. Wines from cooler areas have more of a red berry fruit taste while wines made in warmer climates have flavors of blackberry, anise and pepper. White Zinfandel is referred to as a “blush-style” wine because of it’s rose like color. Zinfandel wines have six times the sales of other red wines in the United States. This is mostly because of the range of flavors and styles that are found within the Zinfandel wines.

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