Varietal 4: Zinfandel | Part D: Comparing Zinfandel

The majority of American Zinfandel hails from California’s warmer climate regions gifting consumers with a tremendous variety of affordable and drinkable wines packed with bold fruits and peppery spices.  Wine makers typically allow grapes to fully ripen and sugar levels to elevate providing wines full of flavor and higher in alcohol but remaining balanced with moderate to high acidity.  Did we mention tannins yet?  Zins are notoriously high in tannins further justifying their reputation as the wild child of American red wine.  Bottom line is a big, bold, juicy, spicy red wine just waiting to be served with your favorite roasted, grilled or smoked foodie favorites.

Zin’s Italian cousin, Primitivo, is the calmer, gentler of the two.  Italian wine makers are better known for subtler wines with more tart, just-ripe fruit, high acidity and lower alcohol, although only slightly lower which still allows the varietals distinct spicy, peppery notes to shine.  Many highly affordable Primitivo wines can be found on the market as this varietal is considered a daily drinkable in its native Puglia region where very little of the varietal is aged for any significant period of time.  Just like its American cousin, Primitivo has had its highs and lows in popularity.  The varietal has experienced a resurgence from its link to U.S. Zinfandel although Italian wine purists likely still wish the link between the two grapes remained unknown keeping Primitivo a uniquely Italian wine.

Top Growing Regions

  • California – Napa, San Joaquin Country, Sonoma, Mendocino, San Luis Obispo, Central Valley, generally broadly planted across the state
  • Washington State
  • Nevada

Global Growing Regions:

  • Italy – Puglia region where it is called Primitivo