What is Zinfandel

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are plenty of great reasons to enjoy a refreshing glass of this affordable wine called zinfandel.

What is Zinfandel?

Zinfandel is the term for a varietal of black grape, as well as the wine produced by fermenting it. In Italy, the same grape is called Primitivo and produces an identical wine to that made in California.

It is traditionally a high-alcohol red wine. Winemakers in California invented white zinfandel in the early 20th century by removing the grape’s skins early in the fermentation process. In the US alone, ‘White Zin’ outsells red by a margin of 6 to 1, but the red varieties are more popular in other parts of the world. [1]


The taste of this wine varies, let us take a look.

  • Zinfandel/Primitivo grapes are high in sugar, which is what converts to alcohol during fermentation, making this wine high in alcohol, while still tasting sweet.
  • Red Zin is bold and fruity, and you may detect flavors like ripe berries, jam, tobacco, and black pepper. [2]
  • White Zin is also fruity, and typically sweet. Flavors of watermelon and berries make it a great summer drink!
Bunches of fresh and ripe blue zinfandel grapes hanging in the vineyard

Zinfandel is a variety of black-skinned wine grape. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Zinfandel/Primitivo grapes have dark red, almost black skin, which produces pink ‘White Zinfandel’ when the skins are removed early in fermentation, or ‘Red Zinfandel’ when the grape skins are left intact.


The red variety has about 130 calories, but the white version of this wine, however, has just 108 calories and 8.3 grams of carbohydrates!


Zinfandel/Primitivo contains antioxidants, including resveratrol, which has been linked to heart health. This wine contains saponins, which help lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. [3]

Word of Caution: Moderation is key. Alcoholism and binge drinking is detrimental to your overall health and can undo any possible good things that moderate amounts can impart.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who should not drink alcohol include women who are pregnant, individuals younger than 21 years of age, and people who are recovering from alcoholism or cannot control the amount they drink. Also, it should be avoided by people who are planning to drive or any other activity that required focus and skill. However, different countries have different rules on alcohol purchase and consumption. [4]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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