Friday, September 20, 2019

Discovering Zin

April 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

I am a shameless fan of Zinfandel! It all began with my twin sister, who considers herself the unofficial “Ambassador of Zin”. Anyone who knows her has heard her speak of the plight of Zinfandel, which she believes is an unappreciated grape, deserving of greater recognition among the general populace of wine drinkers. The truth is, Zinfandel vines, dating back to the 1800s, can be found in every grape growing region in California, but in spite of this fact, many wine lovers are discovering Zin for the first time.

Zinfandel is a variety of red grape, which many consider native to California. However, several years ago DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Italy. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, and became known by variations of the name “Zinfandel”, a name of uncertain origin. Today, organizations like ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) are dedicated to raising awareness about Zinfandel as a fine wine, and bringing together Zinfandel enthusiasts to celebrate this magnificent grape.

My attempts to spread the word about Zinfandel are on a much smaller scale-one wine drinker at a time. I run a small wine bar in Las Vegas, where I meet wine lovers from across the spectrum, including those just learning about this luscious world of aromas and flavors, and those die hard wine lovers whose passion and dedication to “good juice” is only rivaled by their appreciation of great food. When I ask all of these guests if they are familiar with Zinfandel, I occasionally discover someone who has obviously met my sister, because they begin enlightening me on their love affair with Zin, but for the most part, folks don’t know much, if anything, about Zinfandel. This moment is always the perfect opportunity to grab a few tasting glasses and dive into some “practical research”.

One of the most delightful attributes of Zinfandel is the wide array of styles that one may encounter. Characteristic flavors and aromas may include blackberry, cherry, raspberry or cranberry, followed by notes of black pepper, anise, clove or a hint of chocolate. The growing region, the age of the vines, pruning and ripeness at the time of harvest all contribute to the flavor profile of a particular Zinfandel, but some of the basics remain consistent…richness, spice and a touch of white or black pepper. There is a little something for every palate. The favorite of those who currently frequent the wine bar where I am often tasting guests on several different Zins, is “Zin City” Zinfandel, from Sort This Out Cellars in California. Yes, the name is a play on Vegas, and I must admit, when I first met the proprietors Jeff and Felicia, I thought, “Okay, great packaging, but what about the juice?” Turns out, Jeff’s own description sums it up perfectly-“Aromas of spicy cherry, tobacco and white pepper combine with ripe fruit flavors that wrap their legs around your glass, finishing with a bold kick of spice.” I couldn’t have said it better.

So, what are you waiting for? There is only one way to get intimate with both the subtle nuances and the bold character of a good Zinfandel. Grab a bottle, share it with a friend, and discover why so many wine enthusiasts are crazy over this rich and spicy little grape. Whether you are enjoying an elegant dinner or just relaxing at home, you too will soon find yourself shamelessly singing the praises of Zin. Cheers!

Reprinted with permission from AquaC Green Publishing and Aqua Cabana Magazine

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