As a producer of two different styles of Zinfandel, we receive many questions about both of our wines:
- I didn’t know Zinfandel was red?
- Is White Zinfandel sweet?
- How can these both be Zinfandel?
- Is Zinfandel Red or White?
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the different techniques we use to produce these two unique wines. Zinfandel is a red skinned grape, so the wine’s red color comes from the time the juice and skin are in contact during the fermentation process. If the winemaker presses early on during fermentation (or immediately, as we chose to), the resulting wine has limited color and can appear anywhere from transparent to light red. If the juice is left in contact with the skin through the completion of fermentation before pressing, it has a deeper, red color.
Let’s start with a brief history lesson. Zinfandel in America dates back to the mid-1800’s where it was the primary grape grown in California. Zinfandel assimilated well to California’s climate and was grown by European settlers who moved west in the chase for gold. Over time, the popularity of the grape diminished in favor of French grapes, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. In the 1970’s and 1980’s Zinfandel gained popularity as a white or rosé wine, typically in a sweeter style which caught on with the American wine consumer. In modern times, producers brought a renewed focus to Zinfandel as a variety that can produce world-class red wines. Wine connoisseurs have long looked down at the sweeter style of white Zin, but its value to the California wine industry cannot be understated. When red Zinfandel fell out of favor in the 1970’s, the production of white Zin allowed many old vineyards to stay in production. This results in a tremendous collection of historic Zinfandel vineyards throughout California today, including the home of our zinfandel, Puccioni Ranch.
So to answer our earlier questions:
- Q: Is Zinfandel a red wine?
- A: It can be made both red and white, and both styles can produce amazing wines.
- Q: Is White Zinfandel sweet?
- A: This was the style made popular in the 1980’s, while less in vogue now, wines are still made in this style. Our Rosé, for example, is fermented to dryness with little residual sugar so it isn’t sweet.
- Q: How can these both be Zinfandel?
- A: Same varietal, different production styles, both uniquely delicious wines.
Homework Assignment: Taste Wine!
The best way to learn more is always through tasting, so pickup some Drive Zinfandel today!