I can’t tell you how many times I’ve served zinfandel wine at home, brought it to someone else’s house, or suggested it in a restaurant, to have someone express surprise. They often comment that they’d prefer red wine, or, if they’ve already seen the colour, that they didn’t know zinfandel was red.
We went through a period, in the U.S., in the 1980s and ’90s, when the insipid swill called “white zinfandel” was the most popular wine around. You’d look around you in a restaurant, and on most tables you’d see glasses with that characteristic barely-pale-pink liquid that a friend used to call “Kool-Aid”. It’s not really a rosé, and not anything resembling a decent white. White zinfandel was to wine as “red delicious” is to apples, as “Wonder” is to bread, as McDonalds is to food. Ubiquitous. Bland. Boring. But consistent.
Happily, the popularity of the “white” garbage has waned.
Zinfandel is a grape variety grown in California — you won’t find it in French wines, nor Australian, nor Chilean... though it is related to a Croatian grape (and, in fact, Croatian wines are quite decent and inexpensive; it’s an unsung wine region). And the zinfandel grape produces a robust, deep-red, wonderfully flavourful wine that I very much enjoy.
Zinfandels can be pricey, but there are some inexpensive ones that are really quite good. Pepperwood Grove, Ravenswood, and Rosenblum all make tasty, reliable zinfandels that go in the $10 range in New York — and go with lots of good food.