There has been some confusion about the origin of the Zinfandel and Primitivo wines, with many people believing that they’re both similar but are still separate options made from different grapes.
The truth is, Primitivo wines are the pride and joy of the wineries of Southern Italy. However, their Zinfandel counterpart is grown in California, USA, and used to produce fruity and sweet rosé (White Zinfandel) and Red Zinfandel.
It wasn’t until 1994 before DNA analysis was able to prove that both grapes, and their wines, were genetically the same. The story of how the history of the two types got muddled is a story of its own.
In the 18th century, a priest took some grapes from Croatia, including the Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski, and planted them in Italy where it was noticed that they ripened earlier than any other grape. The name Primitivo (meaning, first one) was born and has stuck to do this day. As the grapes thrived well in that climate, they quickly became widely popular, especially for use as a blending grape.
Meanwhile, around 1829, when the Habsburg monarchy ruled Croatia, some of the grapes landed on American soil in Boston from Vienna. There, it was initially used as table grapes. The Americans called it Zenfendal – a play on the Hungarian version of its name, tzinifándli. When the grapes made their way to California during the gold rush, they were planted and, for the first time, used for winemaking on American soil.
The reception was so great that the production of Zinfandel wines skyrocketed in no time. It wasn’t until 1994 before research showed that both grapes were genetically similar and narrowed down their history to Croatia.
In 2001, it was confirmed that both grapes were originally from the Crljenak Kaštelanski plant. This meant that Italian Primitivo could also be marketed as a single varietal, rather than a blending grape and now, both labels are used interchangeably sometimes.
The tasting notes of Zinfandel/Primitivo wines
When you buy Zinfandel wines, you’ll enjoy its many layers of fruity flavours. You’ll often taste raspberry, blackberry, cherry, and blackcurrant flavours in a glass of this delicious drop, while sometimes, you might notice hints of smoke, aniseed, and black pepper. In the US, the wine is aged in oak barrels to give it a hint of tobacco and vanilla.
Primitivo wines have a big, bold, and full-bodied flavour and have high alcohol levels, as well as medium acidity and tannin levels. A lot of native Italian Primitivo wines have begun to be aged in American oak barrels to give them a similar flavour profile as the American Zinfandel.
Creating the perfect pairings for Zinfandel/Primitivo
The bold and slightly sweet taste of this wine makes it great for barbecues. You can also try pairing with flavoured cheese – like cheddar or smoked gouda. For vegetables, try highly flavoured meals like caramelised onions, roasted bell peppers, and olives. A lot of Moroccan and Turkish spices also go well with this dorp because of the spicy undertones.
White Zinfandel Rosé is also a great aperitif and pairs well with cold pasta salads, prosciutto, spiced nuts, and crudités with dips.
Buy Primitivo wine online with peace of mind
Our fantastic selection of Primitivo/Zinfandel ranges from round and smooth, to oaky and spicy, to fruity and delicious. With our top-shelf collection of great-tasting Primitivo/Zinfandel from Italy and California, any fan of this full-bodied option will enjoy a memorable experience with the many labels available through The Melbourne Wine Store.