Wine Basics — Grape Varietals 101: Zinfandel (aka: Primitivo)

An introductory guide to Zinfandel wine. Everything you need to know about the grape variety including flavour, food pairings, growing regions — and how to pronounce this juicy varietal.

Wine Basics — Grape Varietals 101: Zinfandel (aka: Primitivo)


Try a Zinfandel wine if you like Grenache or Syrah.


Overview of the Zinfandel wine varietal

(Not to be confused with the wine style “White Zinfandel.” )

This red wine is dark fruit driven with lots of body and high alcohol, but velvety smooth tannins.


Why we like the Zinfandel varietal, grape and wine

  • You get a big, rich wine without the grippy tannins.
  • It’s jammy, so basically it’s like breakfast.
  • It’s boozy, often around 15%+ abv

How to pronounce Zinfandel:



Flavours and aromas of Zinfandel wines

  • Fruit: strawberry, red and black raspberry, cherry, bramble, jammy
  • Herbal: cinnamon, white pepper, sage
  • Oak: vanilla, caramel, baking spice
  • Other: rootbeer, cola, tobacco, leather


Foods that go well with Zinfandel wine – varietal pairings

  • Barbecue (BBQ) sauce
  • Grilled meat (esp smothered in BBQ sauce!)
  • Burgers (with bacon)
  • Meat Loaf
  • Grilled mushrooms (especially on a burger)
  • Pizza


Where are Zinfandel / Primitivo grapes grown?

Old World Zinfandel Regions

  • Italy (called Primitivo)
  • Croatia (called Tribidrag)

New World Zinfandel Regions

  • California, USA


Interesting facts about Zinfandel wine

Most people recognize Zinfandel by the California style of wine called “White Zinfandel.” Why? Because the vast majority (over 80%) of Zinfandel grapes in the USA is used to make this sugary blush wine.


Other names for the Zinfandel varietal include

Primitivo (Italy), Tribidrag (Croatia)


Our favourite finds for Zinfandel / Primitivo wine

Z. Alexander Brown Wines 2016 Uncaged Proprietary Red Blend
A Mano Primitivo


Dig Deeper: Learn More About Old World vs New World Wines

Like Zinfandel? Try A Similar Grape Variety: Barbera


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