Responsible for the blush wine craze of the late 1980s, Zinfandel is a near-native grape of California, where at its best, it produces powerfully-constructed, brambly, spicy reds for the most part best drunk young or relatively young.

Quick Link: 10 Top California wineries to visit | Zinfandel to change your mind


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Known as Primitivo, it also flourishes in Puglia, around Manduria, producing similarly big, albeit more savoury, reds. Like South Africa’s Pinotage, it has recently undergone a major revival in California, so much so that Italy, ironically, has recently won the right to the use of the name Zinfandel for Primitivo.

SEE ALSO: Primitivo: A return to the old ways | Monty Waldin’s taste of bush-vine Primitivo

What does it taste like?

In its pink incarnation, Zinfandel, sometimes known as white Zinfandel, tends to be light, sweetish and bland. Take it seriously though and it produces powerfully-constructed, brambly, reds with raspberry and blackberry-like flavours and plenty of tannins and spice. It is believed to be the same grape, or virtually the same grape as southern Italy’s primitivo, which is equally capable of producing heady, robustly spicy reds.

Updated by Jeanne Thexton on the 11th of January 2016