Know Your Grapes: Zinfandel

Know Your Grapes: Zinfandel

Zinfandel (also known as Primitivo) is a variety of red grape and  is planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards.

Zinfandel grapesDNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag and the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Puglia (the “heel” of Italy), where it was introduced in the 18th century.

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. The grapes typically produce a robust red wine, although a semi-sweet rosé (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine in the United States. The grape’s high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 percent. Red berry fruit flavours like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone.

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