A red wine grape originally thought to be indigenous to California. Recently, however, experts have concluded that the Zinfandel grape was brought to the United States from Italy's Puglia region and is a descendant of the primitivo grape grown there. Regardless, the Zinfandel grape with its spicy, raspberry flavors makes marvelous, fruity red wines ranging from lighter styles to big, rich bottlings that can rival Cabernet Sauvignon. An intense wine, Zinfandel is high-alcohol and often just-this-side-of-sweet. When made well, it’s the perfect pair for anything similarly intense (standing rib roasts with a nice fat cap, wild game) and is often the people’s choice for Thanksgiving dinner. In the 1980s, white Zinfandel (a blush wine) also gained considerable popularity. Occasionally, late-picked grapes full of concentrated sugar are made into late-harvest Zinfandels and served as dessert wine or in place of port.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.