Zinsanity: A Wild Walk With Zinfandel
Posted on October 22, 2015
Hey. Ho. It’s Lo! And Tee! The Grape Girls! Ready to run down a river of jammy, earthy, cocoa-y dreams with our new pal, Zinfandel. Now, before we jump in and start telling you all the things we love (and a few things we hate) about her, there’s a few things you oughta know. ‘Cause the love that you gave that we made wasn’t able to make it enough for you to be open wide, no… Sorry. Jagged Little Pill moment. (Side bar: Does anyone else agree that Jagged Little Pill is arguably the BEST start-to-finish album of all time? We digress…).
Don’t Knock Her ’til You Try Her
We, The Grape Girls, often refer to our Bible, The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Wine by Tara Q. Thomas, for new information when diving into the deep end of new and unchartered wine territory. And what we found when we consulted the Great Wine Book was that Zinfandel, unlike fickle Pinot Noir or predictable Merlot, is a grape all her own. She’s one that walks on the wild side, who’s texture and complexity is unlike any other. To be frank, she’s the one you can’t really describe until you experience her for yourself. Ok, Zin: challenge accepted.
She’s Wild. Mysterious. Croatian. Olsen?
For many years, Zinfandel was nicknamed the “mysterious grape”, because no one could pin point her place of origin. It wasn’t until recently that magical science wizards using DNA fingerprinting were able to determine that our girl, Zin, that we know and love today, is actually a genetic twin to Italy’s primitivo grape and Croatia’s crljenak kastelanski (I know, it’s a lot of consonants…don’t ask me how to say it) grape. Another mystery solved by the magic of modern day science. However, don’t get too comfortable…those Americans are about to dash your dreams. The U.S. requires that, though genetically identical, zinfandel and primitivo be identified separately on wine labels. Why, you ask? Well, think of it like the Olsen twins. For a while, it was ok that no one could tell the difference between the blonde beauties and everyone identified both as the cute, youngest sister on ‘Full House’, Michelle. However, as they got older and the world realized that baby Michelle was actually two people, Mary Kate and Ashley, like any good dynamic twin duo, sought their own individual personalities. Remember, it was Ashley Olsen who was caught up in a drug scandal while Mary Kate Olsen had plastic surgery. Allegedly. Same goes for Zinfandel. Though genetically identical, she’s a personality all her own – and not appearing to go under the knife any time soon. A unique cluster size and vine vigor gives Zinfandel a American name, flavor and style all her own.
Somewhere between 1852 and 1857, during The Gold Rush in America, is when Zinfandel made her big move out west to California to become a STAAHH, kid. And she did. Once she put down roots in the golden state, she exploded and her popularity and vines spread like wildfire in the sunny climate and rich soil of Cali. So much so that today, she is California’s third most popular grape variety, found in over 40 of the state’s 58 counties. You GO, Zin Coco.
Sidebar: White Zinfandel is NOT Zinfandel
People of the world, listen up: White Zinfandel is NOT a zinfandel grape. It IS, however, a method of processing the zinfandel grape. See, back in the 1960’s, when white wine was king (we don’t get it, but hey, it’s histo
ry, folks), American’s had no interest in red zinfandel. But there she was, ripe and plenty and ready for the picking by the barrel in California. Something had to be done, or else…that’s a lotta wine
going to waste. And the Grape Girls NEVER waste a wine.
As a result, in 1972, a man by the name of Bob Trinchero at Sutter Home Winery in Napa had an idea. He took the juice that drips out of the grape naturally from the weight of the grapes on the vine (known as free-run juice) and bottled it. And wham, bam, thank you ma’am…by the late 80’s, White Zin was all the rage and the most popular wine in the U.S.
Forecast: Partly Cloudy With a Chance of YUM
Our cloudy companion for the day came from the lovely ladies at Craveyon Cloud Wines. Sourced from Paso Robles, CA and bottles in Temecula, CA, we love this jammy, berry, cocoa-y zinfandel. Not only do we love the totally unique and fitting label, we love the price point (around $13/bottle…only $8 if you’re a member of their wine club!).
We also love their interactive, audience participation, choose your own adventure style of wine making. Once a month, these ladies host private blind tastings, meaning you show up, not knowing what you’re going to taste, taste a few and vote on your favorites. The wine with the most votes at the end of the night is chosen as the next wine the winemakers will produce, which we think is super awesome.
That’s gonna do it for this round, folks. Here’s a couple of exciting things we wanna share with you before we go, though:
- We’ve partnered with Thrillist.com! That’s right. You can now enjoy more
shenanigans from your favorite lovable lushes by looking out for us on this powerhouse of a site. If you missed it, check out our first article here: 10 Signs You’re Taking Your Wine Way Too Seriously.
- We’re co-hosting a Twitter party! Please join us virtually on October 28th at 6pm PST along with our fabulous co-hosts, @LAMeliGonzalo @StellaRosaWine @Govino @susiespiceitup @HotelTonight. RSVP and more information here: Twitter Party
- We HEART you. Seriously.
Lo & Tee