On Zin Zazee Doo Dah

By the mid 1900s, zinfandel was undoubtedly my favorite wine type. At the time, my palate was good at identifying flavors so, I know that the combination of full body, fruit, and spice is what I enjoyed the most about zin. Sometime in the last 90s, winemakers began favoring zins with higher alcohol, which actually caused by to venture into other varietals and regions – yet, while keeping zins close to my heart.

Zinfandel is a dark grape with its heritage in Croatia. Yes, in 2001 scientists discovered zin is genetically the same a Croatian grape. The first documented sighting of zin in the US was in the early 1800s (Boston), but the Gold Rush served as the mechanism to move the vines westward.

For a long time, California winemakers commonly used zin for general table/bulk wines, thus not much on its own. Although zin lovers generally dislike white zin with a passion, we recognize that white zinfandel’s popularity may have saved this grape in California.

I think of zinfandel as America’s wine. Cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay may be more popular; one can commonly find these two are commonly in other wine regions throughout the world – but not zinfandel.

Although zin grows in most of California’s major wine regions as Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles (Central Coast), Mendocino, Amador, and Lodi, each region delivers its own unique flavors. For fresh black cherry fruit and pepper, I love the zins from one of my favorite places to visit – the Dry Creek region of Sonoma. Then again, Amador County zins give me a rich flavor or jam and raisins that I adore – which happens to correlate to make affection for port. For value, old vines zins from Lodi are very respectful, thus worth a try.

Zinfandel is a hearty, flavorful red wine that is great with grilled meats and red-sauced pastas. Some of my favorite $10-13 bottles include Ravenswood, Cline, Rosenblum Cuvee (followed by a Roman numeral as XXXIII), and Dancing Bull Winemaker’s Reserve. Marietta makes a delightful zin-based blend that they designate by a Lot number on the label. I even like Plungerhead; and yes, the Kirkland Old Vine Zin (Costco) is a great value!

Take the price up a notch, you can find very good zins from not from those previously list, but also Seghesio, Ridge, Opolo, Sausal, Redwood, Four Vines, Peachy Canyon, Storybook Mountain, Turley, A. Rafanelli, and many others from the previously-mentioned regions. Here’s a list from ZAP.

I am a more daring wine buyer than most – meaning I am not scared to buy something to try. I recommend this because this will help any wine drinker to discover the taste they most enjoy at the price they are willing to pay. A wine distributor recently said the following to me:

Although it is important to like the wine you drink and to drink the wine you like, it is also important to keep an open mind to other fruits from the vine.

Well, that is how I discovered Primitivo from southern Italy, which also happens to be a clone from the same Croatian grape as zinfandel.

Cheers – Zin is wonderful – but also enjoy this short video from the Paso Robles (CA) wine region

36 thoughts on “On Zin Zazee Doo Dah

  1. this is an entirely unfair comment and it based on a very small sample – but i’ve noticed that women who like white zinfandel tend to be rather “loose.” not complaining, as i’ve had many a smile as a result.


    • Rich,
      Now this is a comment I had not anticipated. Even did a short Google search for a correlation, but nothing. Then again, for those who want to know, now they know. Thanks for sharing.


      • well, as i said, entirely unfair and based on about three women i’ve known who loved white zinfandel, specifically mondavi, and loved…other things quite easily. the difficult part was waiting for their kid to finally fall asleep. that, and hustling to work the next morning with such a lack of sleep.


    • Lynn,
      You are welcome … and to be thankful for white zin saving the grape is an interesting twist to the story – especially for someone who enjoys hearty reds. Thanks for visiting.


  2. I must admit we are very proud of our wine country! We have been known to drive from L.A. to Paso Robles just for lunch and a bit of a soak in the vineyards. Santa Barbara is much closer and has more than 100 wineries. I love a good Zin, but once in a while I really want an Italian Primitivo, too! Debra


  3. I love the zinfandels too, like I enjoy any red wine with a heavy, full body. Thanks for all the tips for bottles to try out. The saying by the wine distributor holds true for all aspects of life. We should always keep an eye open outside of the well-known path.


    • Otto,
      Cheers to a fellow zin lover! The ones I listed are commonly found in the US, but I have no clue what is offered in Norway. Nonetheless, ask your wine merchant … and don’t forget about Italian Primitivo! Thanks for commenting.


  4. My beautiful friend, dear Frank, first of all I want to say Thank you, especially for your nice words on my emotional post today. You are so nice and I feel myself so lucky with you all.

    Zinfandel… You know (I told before I think) I love wine and much more than all other drinks… But I can’t say I know wine names… This was so interesting for me and also the name Zinfandel… I wanted to taste now… I wanted to drink it now 🙂 BUT you can’t believe right now, at my desk in a glass bowl there is dark grape bunches and I eat them. What a time….

    Thank you, with my love, nia


    • Nia,
      Zinfandel is wonderful, but I imagine it would be difficult for you to find. Consider an Italian Primitivo, which will be very similar. If you try it, let me know what you think of it. Meanwhile, enjoy your fresh, dark grapes. Thank you for the kind words and for visiting.


  5. Sorry for the delay in me commenting on this post. I have been out of the loop for a week or two. I really enjoyed your post and the video included. I always find myself drawn to Zin’s and Primitivo’s. Two Primitivo’s I have enjoyed are the Il Primitivo Puglia 2009 approx. $12-15.00. Pillastro Primitivo Negro Amaro Selezione de Oro approx. $20.00. For everyday value I think the Gnarly is very reliable as is 7 Deadly Zins. Higher up the price chain proprietary blends with mostly Zin such as The Prisoner are delicious. SALDO also by Orin Swift [maker of Prisoner] is one of my fav’s in the $25.00 range and has an incredible label; simple yet dramatic. FYI I have posts about Prisoner and Primitivo on my blog. At a class recently I discovered St. Amant Old Vine Zinfandel from California’s Lodi Apellation and so enjoyed it that I bought a couple of bottles for future embibing. Looking forward to confirming that I really liked it 🙂 I believe it was priced at about $17.99 [on sale] at Total Wine and More. Thanks for making me go on and on about Zin!


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