The Zinfandel grape has been grown in California for 150 years.
Zinfandel grapes also grow in Italy, known as the Primitivo grape. However, both Zinfandel grapes from these regions are descendants of an ancient Croatian grape variety, Crljenak Kastelanski. The California Zinfandel grape is intense and is known for making rich, dark, full-bodied red wine with a high alcohol content.
I lean towards favoring the spicy, dark fruit Zinfandels instead of the fruit-forward, jammy Zinfandels. When I drink a spicy, dark fruit Zinfandel, I pair it with burgers, lamb, beef, a spicy soup, even pad thai. The more fruit-forward, jammy Zinfandels pair nicely with chicken, ham, pork tenderloin, spicy pasta, chicken fajitas and pizza.
My Top 10 Zinfandels Under $10 (in no particular order):
1. Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel ~ This is an excellent, bold Old Vine Zinfandel. The nose is pretty fruit-forward, think blackberry and raspberry. I love the slight spicy kick of pepper and the earthy undertones of this wine.
2. Sebastiani Zinfandel Sonoma County ~ I love the balance of this Zinfandel. The fruit paired with the toasty oak makes for a nicely structured Zinfandel.
3. Dancing Bull Zinfandel ~ This wine is super fruity on the nose; raspberry, cherry and blackberry but does have a slight peppery kick at the finish that I love in a Zinfandel. This wine is more of a lighter, medium-bodied Zinfandel.
4. Fetzer Vineyards Zinfandel ~ This wine does not have the super fruit forwardness that you expect to find in a Zinfandel. It is dry, well balanced with nice acidity. For the price, this Zinfandel is a great choice.
5. Cline Cellars Zinfandel ~ Let’s face it. Cline Cellars makes delicious, affordable wine. I love the spicy kick at the finish and the oak gives it that nice vanilla note as well. I love the dark fruits in this Zinfandel and well-structured tannins.
6. Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel ~ I love the chocolaty/spicy layers this wine has after it opens up. The nose has big, dark fruit. I also love the long lingering finish. You know what I love eating best with this wine? Chocolate!! Especially brownies.
7. Trentadue Old Patch Red ~ This red wine is a blend made mostly of Zinfandel (54%) but also has 31% of Petite Sirah giving it that delicious spicy kick at the finish that I love so much. Peppery, spicy, with a chocolate kick. Yummy!
8. Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel ~ A classic Zinfandel with dark fruit flavors, a little spice and vanilla. This is a great pick for grilled meats and barbecue!
9. Rosenblum Cellars Vintner’s Cuvee Zinfandel ~ This is a well balanced, medium bodied Zinfandel. It has lots of cherry aromas and the red color is gorgeous. This is a great weeknight red wine and would pair nicely with a summertime barbecue.
10. Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Vinters Blend ~ A nice smooth Zinfandel that is fairly big and bold. Love the lingering finish and this pairs perfectly with a spicy red tomato sauce pasta or pizza!