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In Good Taste

Introduction to Zinfandel

Introduction to Zinfandel

California’s Signature Grape

Zinfandel wine is as synonymous with California as the Golden Gate Bridge, Redwood trees, and movie stars. Although, many wine drinkers may be more familiar with Zinfandel’s sweeter side – White Zinfandel. When you were just a wine newbie discovering the deliciousness that wine has to offer, it’s likely that you tried a White Zinfandel – as it accounts for 9.9% of US wine sales by volume.

While the blush variety of this Californian classic may lead in popularity, we can’t overlook the complexities and aromas of a full-fledged red Zinfandel! This varietal has quite an interesting story, so let’s take some time to learn about how Zinfandel found its way to the Golden State and reached the level of fame that it has today.  

History, Origin, and Name Meaning of Zinfandel

For decades, Zinfandel was widely believed to be an indigenous grape to California. However, later discoveries found that the first evidence of Zinfandel wine dates back to 6000 BC in the Caucasus. Zinfandel is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag. It can also be traced back to the Primitivo variety of vine from Italy. 

Zinfandel is believed to have found its way to the United States in the early 19th century by way of a horticulturist from Long Island, George Gibbs. Eventually, by the 1850s, Zinfandel trekked across the country to California during the Gold Rush. Joseph Wl Osborne made the first Zinfandel wine in California, and it was an instant hit. There was huge praise for the wine, and the planting of Zinfandel vines boomed across California soon after. 

History of Zinfandel Wine

In the early 20th century, Zinfandel’s popularity hit a bump in the road after the Great Depression and Prohibition. For a few decades, California’s own became basically forgotten. However, as we all know, this story has a happy ending!

In the 1970s, Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home Winery introduced White Zinfandel – a sweet, blush style of the wine – to the market, and it has remained immensely popular ever since. With a low ABV, sweet taste, and an affordable price at $5-10 per bottle, White Zin is a very popular choice for those that are just dipping their toes into the world of wine. The interest in White Zinfandel has since acted as a catalyst to protect old Zinfandel vines in California, reviving the interest in the original red wine that made it such a success almost 200 years ago. 

Is Zinfandel a Varietal or Blend?

The answer is, both! While Zinfandel is a fantastic stand-alone varietal – with rich, bold flavor and deep complexities –  many great California red blends have Zin in their blend to add depth.

Zinfandel is a Varietal and used in Blended Wine

How to Serve Zinfandel

To really highlight the rich aromas of a Zinfandel, try pairing it with dishes that have a bolder flavor. Barbeque, bacon, ham, and pork all make for excellent food companions to stand up to the distinct flavors of Zinfandel. It also works well with dishes that feature curry, garlic, rosemary, cayenne, black pepper, cheddar, and other richly flavored cheeses. If fruits and veggies are more your style, you can’t go wrong by matching that Zin with cuisines that have punchy flavors such as roasted tomato, red peppers, caramelized onion, and roasted squash, apricot, peach, or sliced apple. 

Zinfandel Wine Pairings

See, Smell, and Taste Notes 

While Zinfandel is unmistakably bold-tasting, it has a lighter color than its other rich counterparts like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In the glass, Zinfandel has a deep, layered red color. Zinfandels can range from medium-dry to semi-sweet, however, the higher quality Zinfandels will lean more towards the dry side of the scale. A quality glass of Zin will have aromas of blackberry, anise, and pepper, and may even have a complex, smoky finish. Depending on where a particular Zinfandel grapevine has been grown, the wine that it produces will have a variety of delicious, robust flavors.

Zinfandel Tastes and Smells

Rosé of Sangiovese


Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.




Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon


If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir


We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons


The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.




A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.


Côtes du Rhône White


This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.


Bordeaux Rouge


When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.


Ventoux Rosé


You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.



Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.


La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.




This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.



We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.


Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.




For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.


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