Definition - What does Zinfandel mean?

In the context of wine grape varietals, Zinfandel is a red wine grape varietal and a species of vitis vinifera. Zinfandel is also known as Primitivo and is a black-skinned grape. The vine is hearty and does well in warm climates, however, too much heat or sun tends to shrivel the thin-skinned grape. Zinfandel is used to produce robust red wines and is also used to produce White Zinfandel, which is a semi-sweet rosy wine. The Zinfandel grape has a very high sugar content and can make wines with alcohol levels of 15% or higher. Zinfandel grapes are known to ripen unevenly, and winemakers often sort the bunches and even the individual grapes, which contributes to the higher cost of many Zinfandel wines.

WineFrog explains Zinfandel

Understanding the characteristics of Zinfandel lets you understand the aromas and flavors in the different wines made with this grape. Zinfandel grapes are used to make blush and red wines that have dramatically different appearances and flavor profiles. Initial differences in flavor depend on where the grape is grown; Zinfandel grapes grown in warm climates have lush fruit flavors of red fruit and berries while cooler climate Zinfandels have flavors of dark fruit, like blackberry and peppery spice.

While specific flavors in the wine are determined by the ripeness of the grapes at harvest, the wine style being made (red or white zinfandel), sugar content and whether or not the wine is oak aged. White Zinfandels can develop flavors of tobacco and apple while Red Zinfandels will develop more spiciness and red fruit flavors of cherry and strawberry.

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