April 30, 2013

This is my favourite grape variety; so in many ways I have saved the best until last for this A-Z blogging Challenge.

This red grape variety has its homeland in California. It is also one and the same grape as Primitivo in Italy something that was only established some years ago through DNA fingerprinting.  California boasts some vines that are over 100 years old and still producing grapes for wines although one assumes they are low-yielding.

ZAP, the association of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers “A small group of passionate wine-making pioneers and Zinfandel lovers joined to create a movement that would elevate the understanding and status of Zinfandel wine” commissioned UC Davis Professor Ann Noble to create a Zinfandel Aroma Wheel in 1993. You can view it on their site it is amazingly detailed. However they do state the most commonly cited characteristics are blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry and cherry, laced with black pepper, cloves, anise and herbs.

Obviously, as with many other grape varieties, terroir plays a large part in the varying flavours and aromas; wine-makers can then vary the style of wine produced by the ripeness of the fruits at harvest, the amount of barrel ageing the wine receives etc. Zinfandel can be found in lighter fruitier styles, ripe and oaked styles as well as a blush style known as White Zin which is often off-dry/sweet  and lighter than a rosé in colour, there is a Late Harvest Zin, and even a fortified variety (made in the Port style).  So many of these styles I have yet to try so I am not sure I am a true Zinophile but I will endeavour to try harder!

Which dishes to serve with a Zin? With such a wide range of flavours and character in the wine many combinations are possible. I think the following menu would be a delicious possibility and something you could try with a variety of the wine’s possible styles:

Hot Split Pigeon Pea Curry (Lasan Wali Toovar Ki Dal)

Chicken Tandoori with Mint, Cucumber and Coriander Salad

Cucumber and Mint Yoghurt Salad (Kheere Ka Raita)

Lemon-Cashew Rice

Iced Berries with Limoncello White Chocolate Sauce

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