Drinking and Pairing Zinfandel with FoodZinfandel is a red grape variety best known in the United States. It is the descendant of the Croatian variety, Crljenak Kastelanski, and is also related to the Italian, Primitivo. In fact, the EU recognizes Primitivo as a synonym for Zinfandel, and has allowed Italian producers to use either term on their label. Zinfandel produces a typically rich style of wine with deep color, high alcohol and lush texture. Fruit flavors of plum, blackberry and raspberry balance with licorice and a distinctive peppery spiciness. Structurally, the wine is broad in the mouth, rich, with moderate tannins and acidity.
Zinfandel pairs well with the robust, smoky flavors of grilled meat, sausage and spicy-sweet barbeque sauces. Both the flavors and the texture make it a classic partner for outdoor cooking. Avoid matching super spicy ingredients like cayenne pepper with high alcohol zinfandel. It will produce an overwhelming heat.
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